Are UnitedHealthcare unstoppable? Maybe not, but they are clearly doing something right because they are making winning look easy. So far in Speedweek, only one person has managed to break the stranglehold of the UHC boys, Luca Damiani, and that was on day one in Athens. Of course you would hardly call Athens a failure - they did manage second with Boy Van Poppel, but since then they have been victorious in all four of the other Speedweek Crits. Jake Keough rampant with three wins, and lead-out man Hilton Clarke picked up the Beaufort Memorial on Wednesday.
Some may find their domination not all that surprising considering that many of the other large US teams have chosen to send stronger rosters to races like the Gila and the Joe Martins Stage race, but their results have certainly be no fait accompli. Boy Van Poppel, Karl Menzies and Hilton Clarke are all race winners on their day, but things still have to go right, just ask Tom Boonen or Alessandro Petacchi.
Keough was all too aware of this fact as he praised the work of his team after the race.
"The Team rode extremely well tonight. I felt super strong and my sprinting legs are just starting to come around," he said.
"We are now dialing in the lead out and making minor tweaks to perfect it. The guys on this Team work so hard every race to put one of us in a position to deliver a victory and I’m glad I was able to do that tonight."
In what has become a familiar sight in Speedweek, a blue blur amassed in the final 10 laps and dragged the eventual winner Jake Keough to the line, essentially an arm chair ride.
"We saw other teams throwing quite a bit at us late in the race, especially Kenda/5-hour Energy and Exergy," General Manager and Team Director, Mike Tamayo said.
"I can’t say enough about how these guys just keep coming together. We really have something special here. This unit consistently does what is required of them and when you do that, good things happen."
The team will hope to finish the Speedweek series on a high with only two more chances before their focus shifts toward Rory Sutherland and the Amgen Tour of California.