The Kelly Benefit Strategies team dominated the 10-day Vuelta a Uruguay, winning 5 stages and holding and defending the leaders jersey for 9 on the 10 stages, passing it from teammate to teammate. It was a hard fought battle with windy conditions and other teams working together to try and dislodge KBS from the top spot but in the end the men in green prevailed.
After taking the lead in stage 8, Scott Zwizanski claimed the overall victory. “It was an unforgettable experience,” said Zwizanski to radio Sport.
As posted previously, the KBS team won the first three stages, and kept on going as Jake Keough won the stage 4, another bunch sprint finish at the end of a 175.4km effort, making it three stage wins for the 21-year old from new England.
Reid Mumford who became the leader after winning the second stage kept the jersey until stage 6, where constant attacks and high took its toll in the 170.5 km from Constancia to Mercedes. In the final 30 kilometers, a dangerous group of 8 riders escaped the peloton and crossed the line 35 seconds, enough time to grab the lead. But they didn’t much time to savor it as Zwizanski and Mumford blitzed the 33.6 km TT on the next day. Zwizanski set the fastest time, followed by Mumford in second at 1:24 putting Mumford back in the lead, 46 seconds ahead of his teammate.
In Stage 8, the KBS team switched the yellow jersey from Mumford to Zwizanski after a decision early in the race to go on the offensive and send both riders up the road instead of just covering the numerous attacks. Gaining 2:30 on the field, a small group of riders broke away and then split with Zwizanski covering the move for Mumford.
“This is really where we won the race,” said Ken Mills, Performance Manager and General Manager, Kelly Benefit Strategies in a team release. “As long as we had either Mumford or Zwizanski in the lineup, we’d keep the lead. It’s also where Reid Mumford demonstrated exactly how our guys ride, letting Zwizanski race for the line without chasing down his own teammate.”
After putting Zwizanski in the lead, the team focused singularly on defending the jersey until the end.
Make that two UCI races won by the team at the same team as Andy Bajadali won the overall at the Tour of Thailand last week too.
“We proved by winning two UCI stage races on two continents less than a week apart that there’s no such thing as spreading yourself too thin,” added Mills. “We can race this well because all of our athletes are trained and racing at the top of their game this season. We’re looking forward to our next race. We leave Friday.”
The Kelly Benefit squad of Mumford, Keough, Zwizanski, Ryan Anderson, Alex Candelario and Jonny Sundt finished third in the overall team classification.
Complete results here
All photos courtesy of Kelly Benefit Strategies