American Pro Continental team Rally Cycling got its European trip off to a great start with victories in Croatia and Portugal last week. Eric Young struck first with a victory in the prologue of the Istrian Spring Trophy in Croatia Thursday.
Young completed the 1.6-kilometer course in 2:01, three seconds ahead of Martijin Tusveld (Rabobank DT) and four seconds ahead of Jan Tratnik (Amplatz – BMC). The win was Young’s first in Europe, and though he lost the leader’s jersey the next day, he remained positive. “It’s great to take a win so early in the season, especially as it is my first one in Europe,” he said. “Hopefully we can continue to build some momentum across the whole team throughout the spring and see some more great results come out of that.”
Rally didn’t have to wait long for those results — a few days later, Will Routley, part of a second squad, racing in Portugal won the final day of GP Liberty Seguros, outsprinting Imanol Estevez Salas (Euskadi Basque Country – Murias) and Vicente García de Mateos (Louletano – Hospital de Loule) on Sunday. Routley made a move on a slight uphill with 300 meters to go and was able to hold on all the way to the line. “I’m really happy to get a win like this in the early season. It was nice to show I’m back to my old form,” he said.
Last year, when the team was known as Optum – Kelly Benefit Strategies, Michael Woods (now with Cannondale) won Clássica Internacional Loulé Capital Europeia do Desporto, a one-day race in Portugal.
Rally’s 2016 European campaign continues with the Volta ao Alentejo (March 16-24) and the Settimana Internazionale Coppi E Bartali (March 24-27). After those races, the team will return to North America and race stateside for the remainder of the season.