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"We have submitted an application for the Giro, and for Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. We would be pleased with an invitation to any of the Grand Tours. We haven't done one in the past and that has been the goal for...

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GIRO D'ITALIA

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JANEZ BRAJKOVIC

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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UNITEDHEALTHCARE PRO CYCLING

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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26.11.2014 @ 18:00 Posted by Joseph Doherty

UnitedHealthcare have applied for wild cards for all three Grand Tour in 2015 according to their team manager Mike Tamayo. The American Pro Continental team has been boosted with the arrival of Janez Brajkovic, who was ninth in the 2012 Tour and has won the Criterium du Dauphine before.

 

"We have submitted an application for the Giro, and for Tour de France and the Vuelta a España," Tamayo told Cyclingnews. "We would be pleased with an invitation to any of the Grand Tours. We haven't done one in the past and that has been the goal for us, so we are equally as excited about doing any of them."

 

Brajkovic isn’t the only addition, as Marco Canola, 2014 Giro stage winner, and Daniele Ratto, 2013 Vuelta stage winner, both join the team. The team has also attended both the Tour and the Giro presentations, and will attend the Vuelta presentation in order to boost their chances of a Grand Tour invite.

 

"If you don't show up to the party then you're just not even going to get invited," he said. "That’s how we see it. We were at the Tour de France presentation as well and we will be at the Vuelta presentation. It's important politically to be known that we are invested in trying to get invitations to these races, that we have the infrastructure, and we would like to be there."

 

Should they receive an invite, a top ten with Brajkovic would certainly be an objective that the team would chase.

 

"To have Janez's strength in the GC during the American races was a no-brainer for us and we are excited about that," he said.

 

"I think he is definitely a top-10 contender for a Grand Tour. He is very motivated and has given us some clear goals that he wants to accomplish. Can he be a contender at a Grand Tour? Yes. Out of all our riders, he has the most experience and the best results at a Grand Tour."

 

In addition to races in the U.S (Colorado, California, Utah), where Brajkovic will also be their GC man, the team has been given the proverbial nod t return to the Spring Classics that they raced in 2014: Paris-Roubaix, E3 Herelbeke, Fleche Wallonne and Milan-Sanremo.

 

"Our goal this year was to always make sure we were aggressors at the WorldTour races. We didn't want to be passengers in the peloton all day. We were in long breakaways and we were really excited about that. Next year, we need to be aggressors again, to be a part of the dynamics of the race but we also need results in the top 10. That’s where we look at guys like Keil Riejnen, Janez Brajkovic, Canola and Ratto."

 

A big step for the team was being invited to March’s Criterium International by ASO, who also organize the Tour de France.

"We had a good meeting with ASO and we are looking forward to competing at Critérium International, and we want to prove ourselves there," Tamayo said. "Brajkovic has raced there before and we are placing that as one of his first goals of the season. As a team, we will focus on a good performance at Critérium International."

 

While Tamayo would love a Grand Tour invite, he appreciates how hard it is for a second tier American team to get an invite to one.

 

"The trouble with these races is that there are a limited amount of wildcards that they allow in a race and so organisers need to invite the Pro Continental teams in their own countries, and that takes up most of the start spots right away," he said. "It's similar to the Giro, RCS Sport is going to want to bring in Italian teams. That's the trouble that we run into as an American team."

 

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