For the first time in the teams history, Caja-Rural Seguros RGA will take part in the Tour of Utah (2.HC) as well as Colorado Classic (2.HC), the two most prestigious races in the UCI America Tour.
The Tour of Utah will take place over seven stages between the 31 July – 6 August. The race known as “America’s Toughest Stage Race”, has been steadily growing since its inception as an amateur race in 2000.Over the years the race has become famous for its high-altitude, mountainous terrain as well as its community impact, with over 1,000 volunteers participating to organise the event. A notable change to this years route will see the addition of a time-trial based in Big Cottonwood Canyon on stage three, which has not been a feature of the race since 2011.
The innaugral four-day Colorado Classic is to be held from 10-13 August 2017 with a two-day womens race also to take place over these dates. Though full stage details are yet to be confirmed, both the men and womens races are expected to visit Colorado Springs and Breckenridge, with two further stages of the mens race set to take place in Denver. This event will fill the void left in Colorado by the USA Pro Cycle Challenge and ensure that high level cycling remains in the state.
Though the team will debut in both races, it will not be their first time on North-American soil. The team has triumphed in the last two editions of the Philidelphia Classic with Carlos Barbero and Eduardo Prades claiming victories in both 2015 and 2016 respectively. The team also raced in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in 2015.
The strong results in the Philadelphia Classic also carried the added incentive of being somewhat of a home race for the team, due to its partnership with Fuji Bikes. The team bike sponsors have their headquarters in Philidelphia and have been a co-sponsor of the team since 2015.
Chris Butler: “I’m ecstatic we are doing Utah and Colorado. My team is so stacked with many guys that can perform on this type of terrain, so I am sure all my teammates can go for a special result. The biggest difference with European races is that in the US most of the stages are at 1600 m minimum altitude and climb much higher. It is a different style of racing where each rider has to be more conscious of their hard efforts and make them count. The race really comes down to the riders’ legs… there is no hiding. We have the best climbing bikes in the peloton, which is vital for this race because every gram and second counts. I’m excited to tackle these mountains with such strong teammates and see what we can do on our Fuji SLs.”
Jose Miguel Fernandez (Director Sportif): “Travelling to the US is always a great motivation for us. The style of races are different to what we are used to and that is very appealling us. We have the experience of having competed in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in 2015 and we had nothing but positive things to say about that race. We know that when we arrive we can count on the extra support of our bike sponsor Fuji who always make things easier for us on our trips to the US. A big thing for us to remember is that both of these races will take place at altitude ,sometimes even reaching 3,500 metres on the high.mountain finishes. The racing style will also be different,we won´t know some of the local teams and the racing style will be more aggressive and less controlled to what we are used to in Europe. Whenever we have come to compete in the US the team has put in great performances, winning races and in the action every day, we will continue that objective in these races”