UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis has added three internationally seasoned pros to its roster for 2011: ProTour riders Robert Förster from Team Milram and Christian Meier from Garmin-Transitions along with Boy van Poppel from Rabobank Continental. The US-based team plans to upgrade to the Pro Continental level next year and is looking to complete its lineup with two mountain specialists.
The Netherland’s Van Poppel, 22, is a former junior world cyclo-cross champion and the son of famed Dutch cyclist Jean-Paul van Poppel who is currently the directeur sportif of the Cervelo Test Team. The young Van Poppel is best known for sprinting and became noticed in the US when he won the fifth stage of the Tour of Missouri two years ago.
"Boy is the perfect example of the kind of rider we want on our team because he is super talented, won a stage in Missouri and has been very successful in Under 23 races," said directeur sportif Mike Tamayo. "He has a lot of promise in development, much like the team as we are taking our first steps to Europe."
Germany’s Förster, 32, is a sprint specialist who recently placed inside the top ten in three stages of the Vuelta a Espana. His list of results includes stage victories at the Spanish Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia, Circuit de la Sarthe, Volta Algarve and the Deutschland Tour. He has previously race for Nürnberger, Gerolsteiner and is finishing off his 2010 season with Team Milram.
"We’ve completed our roster as far as speed goes by adding Boy and Robert to our current sprinters and I’m excited about tying those guys in with Hilton Clarke, Jake Keough, Andrew Pinfold and Karl Menzies," Tamayo said. "Both these guys are well suited for races like Philadelphia. But our scheduled will be quite a bit European and they have a lot of experience there."
Canada’s Meier, 25, is a former national road champion but he turned heads when he placed second at the former Tour de Georgia’s Best Young Rider competition in 2008. He currently races for Garmin-Transitions and is considered an all-rounder however, he won the sprint classification at the Tour of the Basque Country this year.
"Meier is a solid rider with all-round ability and he knows how to race his bike," Tamayo said. "We need to make sure we have riders who can win a stage here and there but a team that can support a rider like Rory Sutherland at the Tour of California."
Other new recruits confirmed to have signed agreements include Scott Zwizanski from Kelly Benefit Strategies and Davide Frattini and Chris Jones both from Team Type 1.
Tamayo announced that it has also resigned Canadian sprinter Andrew Pinfold who returns alongside Rory Sutherland, Karl Menzies, Brad White, Adrian Hegyvary, Jonny Clarke, Hilton Clarke, Max Jenkins, Jake Keough and Morgan Schmitt.
"We are looking for two more riders and we are focusing those last two spots on super-star climbers," Tamayo said. "We are excited about the speed and horsepower we put together on the team for one-day races and individual stages. Now we need riders that can in the mountains, whether to support Sutherland or ride alongside him."
UnitedHealthcare recently announced that it intends to secure a Professional Continental license in 2011. Momentum Sports Group LLC director and team owner Thierry Attias acknowledged that that the upgrade from its current Continental status to Professional Continental is a step in the right direction because the team is considering becoming ProTour in the future.