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Video: Team Optum starts strong at USA Pro Cycling Challenge

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Mike Friedman (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) heads out during the rain.

Mike Friedman (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) heads out during the rain. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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The break gets organized to put more time on the field.

The break gets organized to put more time on the field. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich)

Making its USA Pro Cycling Challenge debut, the US-based UCI Continental squad Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies was quick to stamp its name on the Colorado stage race's opening day on Monday, a taxing 202.1km from Durango to Telluride.

The team figured strongly in Monday's sprint finale in Telluride and also claimed the team classification for the opening stage. Additionally, Andrew Bajadali was prominent in the 22-man break which nearly rode away with the stage.

Prior to the start of the USA Pro Cycling's second stage, Cyclingnews spoke with Team Optum's Mike Friedman in Montrose. Friedman was a key lead-out rider the previous day in Telluride for the team's sprinter Alex Candelario and Friedman spoke of the demanding tempo throughout the day as well as the hectic final kilometre of a sprint ultimately claimed by Garmin-Sharp's Tyler Farrar.

Friedman surprised himself with his own performance on a stage which crested Lizard Head Pass, the category 2 ascent topping out at 10,222 feet with 25km remaining and expressed the team's mission of being aggressive each and every day in Colorado.

Based in the southeastern United States, Peter produces race coverage for all disciplines, edits news and writes features. The New Jersey native has 30 years of road racing and cyclo-cross experience, starting in the early 1980s as a Junior in the days of toe clips and leather hairnets. Over the years he's had the good fortune to race throughout the United States and has competed in national championships for both road and 'cross in the Junior and Masters categories. The passion for cycling started young, as before he switched to the road Peter's mission in life was catching big air on his BMX bike.