The Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team will face new challenges when it rolls out Wednesday at the Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico.
Sport Director Jeff Louder said the five-day race will be different than the past three stage races the team has competed in this spring on the domestic circuit. The USA Cycling Pro Road Tour event consists of three road races, an individual time trial and a criterium.
"The difference with Gila is that this is the first race in the big mountains," Louder said. "The climbs are a lot longer and the elevation is much higher. So it is definitely a different race. It is also a good race to prepare for the Amgen Tour of California."
Axeon Hagens Berman brings Pro Road Tour leader Neilson Powless and several riders who helped him win the Joe Martin Stage Race, finish runner-up at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and place third overall at the San Dimas Stage Race. New to the line-up are several riders who were competing in Europe: Trofeo Piva winner Tao Geoghegan Hart of Great Britain, GP Palio del Recioto winner Ruben Guerreiro of Portugal, and the first American winner of the Under 23 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Logan Owen.
"Whenever you change the roster, you are going to change the dynamic," Louder said. "But these are all good guys and they all get along well so I don't see anything other than positive vibes. Basically, we are bringing in a bunch of guys who have won races in Europe and combining them with riders who have won a bunch of races in America. I am looking forward to seeing how they put it all together and get some results."
Tour of the Gila Roster: Riders: Will Barta (USA), Geoffrey Curran (USA), Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR), Ruben Guerreiro (POR), Justin Oien (USA), Neilson Powless (USA), Logan Owen (USA), Tyler Williams (USA). Sport Director: Jeff Louder (USA).