UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling have announced their team roster for the coming season, adding five new riders including British Time Trial Champion Hayley Simmonds.
Simmonds, who took up cycling only a few years ago, has had a phenomenal year and always planned to turn pro in 2016 having finished her PhD.
She joins the American based team alongside four more new recruits: Annie Ewart, Diana Carolina Peñuela, Iris Slappendel, and para-athlete Shawn Morelli.
Simmonds commented on the move, saying: “I am incredibly excited about starting my professional cycling career with UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. The team has a very strong roster and an extremely professional set-up which I think will provide me with the perfect environment in which to develop further as I make the move to full-time rider."
Team manager and sporting director Rachel Heal said: “Simmonds is a relative newcomer to road racing, but she has proven her strength in time trials this year and we’re looking forward to bringing that strength to the team and helping her develop."
Ewart, former 2-time junion Canadian National Champion, joins from Optum Pro Cycling, where she won stage 2 of the Tour of the Gila this year.
The Dutch national champion from 2014, Iris Slappendel, also brings years of high-level racing to the program for 2016, and Coumbian Diana Carolina Peñuela joins fresh from selection at the World Championships and a top ten in the Race Across North America.
Heal explained the significance of Slappendel's signing, saying: "The signing of Iris Slappendel to the team is an important one as we look to increase our presence in European racing. She brings a wealth of experience and strength to the squad from many years racing with some of the biggest European teams."
Shawn Morelli is the 2014 UCI Para-Cycling Road Race World Champion and will represent UnitedHealrthcare Pro Cycling on the road and track at the absolute highest levels of para-cycling competition. Morelli commented, “It’s an honour as a Para-athlete to be included as a member of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, I am looking forward to the road ahead."
The team obtained 13 victories in their second season as a pro team over 2015, and eight of the rider will remain.
Simmonds will be in strong company as she joins World Time Trial Champion Linda Villumsen, and the team also retains Coryn Rivera, a rider who won three stages and the sprinters jersey at the USA Pro Challenge and races the World Champs.
Katie Hall will also return after her breakthrough season with the team, taking second place overall the Tour of the Gila, followed by a high-profile win in the opening stage of the Women’s Amgen Tour of California.
Also staying are team captain Lauren Tamayo and powerful track and road racer Cari Higgins plus Rushlee Buchanan, Abby Mickey, Laura Brown.
General Manager Mike Tamayo said: “When I look back at the season, I see wins from many different riders, in many different types of a races. As a director and general manager, a record like that shows depth, adaptability, and most of all, effective teamwork. That makes us at the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team immensely proud of these riders and this program."
Team manager and sporting director Rachel Heal said: “After a strong showing in 2015, we’re looking to continue the success and carry this momentum into 2016. We will increase our schedule in Europe for 2016, but with two Women’s World Tour races (The Women’s Amgen Tour of California and Philadelphia Cycling Classic) and several more UCI races in the US, we will be looking to perform well on home soil throughout the year."
Want to make sure you've got the biggest women's road races in your diary for 2016? Check out the full calendar for the UCI Women's World Tour here.