Axeon Hagens Berman Will Close Season In Alberta
The Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team’s seven-man roster for its season-ending race, the Tour of Alberta presented by ATB Financial, is built to maximize opportunities, said General Manager Axel Merckx.
“With the variety of riders we take to Canada, we hope to be aggressive in the breakaways and score a couple of good finishes,” Merckx said. “All season long, the guys have been proving it in some pretty outstanding and amazing ways. So we expect nothing short of that in our last team race of the year.”
Five stages of racing begin Thursday in Lethbridge and include a time trial on Stage 4 in Edmonton that will be contested on standard road bikes without aerodynamic wheels and handlebars. That is something reigning Irish Under 23 national time trial champion Eddie Dunbar is looking forward to.
“If I had to pick one stage that probably suits me most, it would be the time trial,” said the 19-year-old, who turns 20 on Thursday. “I have not done a time trial since nationals, so it will be good to do one in Alberta. And with no time trial equipment allowed, I am sure that will shake things up a bit more.”
U.S. national road champion Greg Daniel had hoped to compete in Alberta for a third straight time, but his collarbone – broken at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah earlier this month – is not fully healed.
“Since my collarbone break, I was hoping to return to the Tour of Alberta,” he said. “But with the bone not fully healed yet, it would be risky if I were to go down again. So my next race looks to be the world championships.”
Chad Young is one of five Axeon Hagens Berman riders competing in Alberta for the first time. The 21-year-old, who lives in Golden, Colorado, said he is excited to get the opportunity to race in an international stage race before the season ends.
“I am hoping to assist the team the best I can,” Young said. “Whether that is being in a breakaway, riding the front, or getting bottles, I will be satisfied if I can help the team in a concrete way. I have been a much better finisher lately than I have in the past. So if my legs are feeling good, I may try to get up in some of the sprints as well. Thankfully, after doing the USA Pro Challenge last year, I won’t be in entirely new territory racing the Tour of Alberta.”
Joining Dunbar and Young will be Americans Jonny Brown, Colin Joyce, Justin Oien, Phil O’Donnell and Tyler Williams. Brown and Williams both scored victories Saturday – Brown at the Hotter’N Hell Hundred in Texas and Williams at the Northern California Nevada Cycling Association Elite Road Championship.
Williams, the bronze medalist at the Under 23 national road race, said he has had the Tour of Alberta circled on his race calendar all year.
“It is a race that should suit me well and has a good level, so I’m really excited about it,” the 21-year-old resident of Santa Rosa, California said. “The race Saturday had some good riders and I have had some great numbers in training, so I had high expectations. It will be a bit of a different crew of guys at this race, so I am sure everyone has big ambitions. It should be a fun and exciting week.”
About Axeon Hagens Berman
The Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team represents the next generation of professional cyclists. Founded in 2009 by former professional cyclist and Olympic bronze medalist Axel Merckx, we are cycling’s premier development program. Through our first eight seasons, we have advanced 21 riders to the WorldTour ranks. Axeon Hagens Berman team and staff work diligently to ensure our program remains the best. Through careful rider selection, instruction and guidance, we annually achieve winning results for a vibrant and original brand that represents the future of the sport. We give future stars their shot to ride against WorldTour teams and prove themselves. #PROVEIT