September 11/10 12:11 pm - UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis for 2011: Meier signs, Pinfold returns
Posted by Editoress on 09/11/10
UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis adds experienced European riders Förster, van Poppel and Meier, and re-signs Pinfold for 2011
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis has further bolstered its roster with the signing of three experienced European riders for 2011, while also returning Andrew Pinfold, one of its stalwarts for the past two years.
Headlining the new signings is Pro Tour rider Robert Förster, the 32-year-old German sprinter currently racing the Vuelta a España with Milram. “Robert brings an exceptional amount of experience to the team for 2011,” said Team Director Mike Tamayo. “He’s done just about every race in Europe, including all three grand tours, and he’s won at the highest level.”
Förster, who is in his 10th professional season and previously raced for Gerolsteiner as well, has contested 13 grand tours, earning three career stage wins in Giro d’Italia. He has also raced the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour de Georgia in the United States.
“The racing conversations I’ve had with Robert about 2011 have been great,” Tamayo added. “He not only brings world-class speed to the team, he brings leadership and knowledge. He’s really looking forward to working with younger guys like Jake Keough to help them develop.”
Another of those young riders that Förster will also be working with is new addition Boy van Poppel, who comes to Team UnitedHealthcare from the Rabobank Continental squad, which also produced current team leader Rory Sutherland. Van Poppel, 22, gained notoriety in the U.S. when he won a tough Stage 5 of the 2008 Tour of Missouri ahead of Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia).
Van Poppel is young but experienced,” Tamayo said. “He’s another quick guy but also one who is still developing his talents. Boy is a lot like this Team – he’s looking to grow and improve as we also look to grow toward the Pro Tour level. We expect him to have great rides in Europe, as well as at classics-style races in the U.S. like the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship.”
"Van Poppel has shown he has a big engine, having previously won the Junior World Cyclocross Championship. He also comes from a great pedigree. Boy’s father, Jean-Paul van Poppel, is the most successful Dutch sprinter in history, having won stages in all three grand tours. Boy’s mother, Mirjam Melchers-van Poppel, is one of the top female cyclists in history.
Rounding out the most recent signings for the 2011 Team UnitedHealthcare is Canadian Christian Meier, who comes to the Team from Pro Tour Garmin-Transitions. The 25-year-old Meier also adds another big engine. At 5’ 8” and 135 lbs, he’s a good all-around rider who can both climb and ride a strong time trial.
“Christian is a very versatile rider,” Tamayo said. “He can race hilly classics like Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the shorter, harder stage races. He’s gained a lot of experience in Europe the past couple years, and he’s also still developing as a rider.”
Meier was the 2008 Canadian National Road Champion, the 2007 National Espoir Road Champion and won the Best Young Rider competition at the 2007 Tour de Beauce. Meier posted a 7th place in the Espoir version of Liege-Bastogne-Liege that same year.
Meier was a teammate of returning Team UnitedHealthcare rider Andrew Pinfold on Symmetrics until 2008.
“We’re really happy to have Pinner back for 2011,” Tamayo said. “He’s been a key member of this team for two years, and an integral part of our sprinting unit. He’s an excellent teammate and leader, and a valuable member of the squad.”
The most recent round of signings brings the Team UnitedHealthcare’s roster to 15 new and returning riders. “The guys we’ve signed so far have added a lot of speed to the team,” Tamayo said. “We’re still looking to add a couple more riders who are more pure climber and altitude guys. We’re looking at guys who will do well in races like the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and the Quiznos Colorado Challenge, the new UCI stage race in Colorado that’s starting in 2011, as well as stage races in Europe that take the peloton to the higher passes.”
Tamayo expects some of those races to be in southern Europe in the Spring of 2011. “We’re looking at some races in the warmer parts of Spain and Italy in March and April that will help us prepare for the Amgen Tour of California in particular,” he said. “This year we had a great showing in California and we want to improve on that performance in 2011.”