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Villumsen returns with UnitedHealthcare in 2016

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Linda Villumsen (New Zealand)

Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Cari Higgins driving the UHC train during the final lap of the women's race to deliver a 1-2-3 UHC punch at the finish.

Cari Higgins driving the UHC train during the final lap of the women's race to deliver a 1-2-3 UHC punch at the finish. (Image credit: Dejan Smaic / SportifImages)
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The UnitedHealthcare women's team up on the stage

The UnitedHealthcare women's team up on the stage (Image credit: Women'sTour)
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Linda Villumsen leads the women

Linda Villumsen leads the women (Image credit: Jonathan Devich)
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Katharine Hall (Unitedhealthcare) on the final corner

Katharine Hall (Unitedhealthcare) on the final corner (Image credit: sportifimages)

UnitedHealthcare women's team today announced their 2016 roster, which returns time trial World Champion Linda Villlumsen and adds five new riders.

New to the team will be former Dutch national champion Iris Slappendel, Annie Ewart, Diana Carolina Peñuela, Birtish time trial champion Hayley Simmonds, and para-athlete Shawn Morelli. Returning riders include Villumsen, Laura Brown, Rushlee Buchanan, Katie Hall, Cari Higgins, Abby Mickey, Coryn Rivera and Lauren Tamayo.

"After a strong showing in 2015, we're looking to continue the success and carry this momentum into 2016," said team director Rachel Heal. "We will increase our schedule in Europe for 2016, but with two Women's World Tour races [The Women's Tour of California and Philadelphia Cycling Classic] and several more UCI races in the US, we will be looking to perform well on home soil throughout the year."

Heal said adding Slappendel, who brings years of high-level experience to the team, should help in Europe. The 30-year-old rider, who comes to UnitedHealthcare from Bigla Pro Cycling, has also ridden with Garmin-Cervelo, Rabobank-Liv and Team FlexPoint, among others, over her 12-year pro career.

"After being a professional for so many years I was looking for a different setting and new challenges, but also for a professional team that could offer me a well-rounded race program," Slappendel said. "I have found this in the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, where I can race the most important races on the calendar in Europe, and I have the chance to discover more of the races in the USA."

Ewart, who won a stage a the Tour of the Gila last year, comes to the team from Optum Pro Cycling, while both Simmonds and Peñuela will be riding for their first pro teams. Morelli is the 2014 UCI Para-Cycling Road Race World Champion and 2015 World Championship Para-cycling Track Pursuit bronze medalist. She'll compete on both the road and track for the team next year.

UnitedHealthcare 2016 roster: Laura Brown, Rushlee Buchanan, Annie Ewart, Katie Hall, Cari Higgins, Abby Mickey, Shawn Morelli, Diana Carolina Peñuela, Coryn Rivera, Hayley Simmonds, Iris Slappendel, Lauren Tamayo and Linda Villumsen.