The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team enjoyed an outstanding performance this afternoon during the double-stage day of the Vuelta a Asturias, as the Blue Train's Robert Förster (GER) and Rory Sutherland (AUS) led the US-based squad to two podium finishes. Förster won Stage 2a
, emerging victorious from the 82.9km road race culminating in a bunch sprint finish and giving the first year Pro Continental Team its first win in Europe this season, while Teammate Rory Sutherland captured 3rd place in the 14km Stage 2b Time Trial
in Piedras Blancas, Spain. Today's first and third place finishes mark the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team's second win, eighth podium and 23rd top 10 finish on the year in international racing.
Sutherland finished just eight seconds behind Time Trial winner and overall race leader, Miche-Guerciotti's Stefan Schumacher (GER), and four seconds behind second place finisher Jose Ivan Gutierrez of Movistar (SPA). Sutherland's effort vaulted him from 15th to second place in the general classification, 18 seconds behind overall race leader Stefan Schumacher.
Förster's win today was his second stage win of the 2011 season and the fifth time he has stood on the podium this year. He secured his first stage win in dramatic fashion at the Tour de Langkawi
earlier this year, part of the German sprinter's incredible four podiums in the final four stages
of Malaysia's biggest race.
"I cannot say enough about the special group of guys we have on this UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team," Förster said following the race. "My Teammates did a great job once again setting me up well for what proved to be a bunch sprint finish. At that point, it was up to me to deliver and not disappoint them. I am happy I was able to do that today."
Sutherland said, "I'm happy with my Time Trial performance today. We had great direction going into today and were able to pull two podium finishes out of it. We still have two stages to go, so we'll talk tonight about what our strategy is going into tomorrow and put hopefully put ourselves in a position to be successful."
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling's most experienced stage racer, Charly Wegelius, also put in a fine time trial performance this afternoon, moving up to 9th place in the general classification, 49 seconds behind the race leader. Wegelius recently showed good climbing form at the mountainous Giro del Trentino
earlier this month, and will be among the riders to watch on tomorrow's stage.
The Team's day was not, however, without misfortune, as Scott Zwizanski, who was in form to possibly win today's time trial crashed during the stage and will not be starting the race tomorrow. He will be focusing on his recovery in the coming weeks in order to be in his best form possible for future races.
Asturias' third stage tomorrow promises to be the "queen" stage that will shuffle the overall race situation significantly, as it takes the peloton on a 195km trek from Luarca to Alto de Acebo, and challenges the riders with five significant, rated climbs, with grueling summit finish atop the most difficult of those climbs.
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team roster for the 2011 Vuelta a Asturias: