Ken Hanson & UnitedHealthcare look for record-tying win in Gastown

After two straight wins at the Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix, former US Pro Criterium champion Ken Hanson will bring an all-star UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling criterium squad to the July 9th race in hopes of winning a third straight title and tying the 32-year-old men’s record for most wins, held by the legendary 7-Eleven rider Ron Hayman (1981-1983).

A new addition to the UnitedHealthcare squad for the 2014 season, the 31-year-old from San Diego boasts an impressive cycling resume that also includes top 10 finishes at the Amgen Tour of California and victories at the Tour of Elk Grove, Tour de Korea, Volta ao Alentejo, Vuelta al Uruguay, Gooikse Pijl, and Manhattan Beach Grand Prix. Joining him in one of the most impressive criterium squads to ever race in Gastown will be Hilton Clarke, Karl Menzies, Brad White, Adrian Hegyvary and Luke Keogh.

“I’m really looking forward to coming back to Gastown this year,” said Hanson. “It’s one of my all-time favorite races and to be a two time-winner is incredible. Winning for a third year in a row is a personal goal for me, and matching the record of Ron Hayman would be an honour.”

While BC Superweek is not on United Healthcare’s official schedule for 2014 due to other race commitments, Hanson is such a fan of the Gastown Grand Prix and the series’ two other midweek crits (the UBC Grand Prix p/b Mahony & Sons on July 8 and the Giro di Burnaby p/b Appia Developments on July 10) that he is paying his own way to British Columbia for the three races and he convinced his five teammates to do the same.

“Yes, we are doing the races without team support, said Hanson. “We have a criterium the weekend before (Manhattan Beach) and after (Boise) that are team races, but the guys wanted to do the BC Superweek races after I boasted them up so highly. It’s important to support good racing in North America and, simply put, those races are just awesome. I love racing in B.C.”

While he wants the win, Hanson’s goal is to ensure that a UHC rider, any rider, crosses the finish line first.

“My goal and focus is to race well with my teammates and succeeding as a team is more important to me than tying a record for wins,” said Hanson.

Considering the experience and talent of the UHC squad and the dozens of crit victories they’ve racked up over the past few years, victories at UBC, Gastown and Burnaby are a distinct possibility.

Joining Hanson on the start line will be Hilton Clarke, who won the Gastown Grand Prix in 2006 as a member of the Navigators team. Clarke is a past winner of both the USA Cycling 2013 and 2012 National Criterium Calendar individual titles, and the 2013 USA CRITS Series individual champion title. In 2013 alone, he won (among others) the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium, Tampa Cigar City Criterium, Delray Beach Criterium, Herman Miller Brickyard Criterium, Tour of Somerville, Downtown Walterboro Criterium, and Andersen Banducci Twilight Criterium.

Luke Keough finished 4th Overall in the 2013 USA CRITS Series behind teammates Hilton Clarke and Carlos Alzate. He also finished 3rd overall in USA Cycling’s 2013 National Criterium Calendar. 2013 was a banner year for Keough, with 11 victories including the Las Vegas Criterium, TD Mayors Cup (Boston), Tucson Old Pueblo Grand Prix, Roswell Criterium, Wilmington Criterium, Iron Hill Criterium, Lake Bluff Criterium, Chris Thater Memorial, and all three Days of the Tulsa Tough. In addition to his 11 wins, Keough landed on the podium a total of 20 times in 2013.

The Tasmanian strongman,Karl Menzies had also had a great 2013, winning the Sandy Spring Cycling Challenge and a long list of top finishes including 2nd place in the Iron Hill Twilight and Herman Miller Brickyard Criteriums; 3rd place on Days 1 and 2 of the 2013 Tulsa Tough; 3rd place in the Prairie State Cycling Series’ Elmhurst and Lake Bluff Criteriums; 3rd place overall in the 2013 Speed Week; 4th overall in USA Cycling’s National Criterium Calendar; and 5th overall in the USA CRITS Series.

Rounding out the UHC blue train areBrad White, who won the Prairie State Cycling Series’ Beverly, St. Charles Criterium, and the Glencoe Criteriums in 2013, and formerHungarian national team memberAdrian Hegyvary, a former Seattle resident, with plenty of experience racing in BC.

As Ron Hayman points out, a strong team is just one of the keys to victory in Gastown.

“At times, I look back at the Gastowns I DIDN’T win, and replay then in my mind, and wonder ‘What if this had happened or what if I’d done that….’ But to be honest, along with getting everything right for my three wins, there was also a significant element of luck involved.  Putting 100+ strong riders on a tight criterium circuit always makes for an exciting event. Along with good training, sound tactics and solid teammates, the winner needs a good dose lady luck too. I will be there in person to see if Ken has this winning formula right. And if he does, my record is tied, not broken!”

As for the 2014 Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix, Hanson says, “it’s hard to say what our plan of attack will be so far out. I think it’s safe to say our team would want a sprint finish but with bike racing you have to adapt your plan for the race at any moment.”

Online registration is available on the new BC Superweek website, with discounts available to riders entered in all stages, and teams that sign up six riders for the entire BC Superweek series can register an additional three riders at no cost.