Q&A WITH ERIC MURPHY, DIRECTOR OF RALEIGH-SPONSORED TEAM UNITED HEALTHCARE OF GEORGIA POWERED BY 706P
Raleigh Bicycles sponsors 10 racing teams, ranging from top level pro squads such as the Raleigh-Clement cyclocross team and the Raleigh U.K. continental pro road team, all the way to smaller regional outfits such as the Recycled Cycles road team and the Northwest Sho-Air mountain bike team.
In the middle of this spectrum lies Team United Healthcare of Georgia powered by 706P.
The team has dual missions of winning races and developing talented young amateur racers for the professional level.
Here team director Eric Murphy talks about the team’s goals for 2013.
Raleigh: What will make the 2013 race season a success?
Eric Murphy: A successful season would include regular podium finishes in the Southeast at local and regional events, as well as consistently making it into the top 10 in National Criterium Calendar races and USA Crits Series events. We’re capable of rubbing elbows with some of the fastest finishers the American scene has to offer—even though we’re only an amateur squad.
Additionally, since our team’s inception, the goal has been to groom up-and-coming riders for the pro ranks, and also help riders who have possibly lost a pro contract get back to the pro ranks.
And of course as equally important, is maintaining great relationships with our sponsors. Because we recognize sponsorship as an opportunity and business relationship, we do not take it for granted. We know we have had a successful season when our sponsors continue to grow with us as a team.
Raleigh: What type of races suit the team?
EM: Actually our team is pretty well balanced and can tackle criteriums, single day events and stage races. However, given that we race almost exclusively in the U.S., we have to focus on criteriums.
For that reason, we have a number of sprinters in the ranks, including former Olympian and Russian national track team member Alexey Schmidt (formerly of the Team Type 1 pro squad), as well as lead-out specialist Dan Holt, who also came over from Team Type 1. Our team also has a few additional sprint threats in Stephan Hirsch, who is a former German national team member, and Athens local Brendan Cornett.
Raleigh: Do the riders on the team also have other careers? What do they do?
EM: We have riders who are also cycling coaches, cycling team directors, undergraduate students, graduate level students, webmasters, bike shop employees, business owners, dog walkers, and a few guys who are full-time bike racers.
Raleigh: What is your exact role with the team?
EM: Well, I started the team five years ago to help riders that were hungry to race but did not have good support. I had a hard road in my path to the pro ranks, with very little guidance from experienced riders, no monetary support, etc.
My goal with the riders on this team is to make their life easier, but not too easy. Because even if they get to the next level, they may still be pumping up their own tires and figuring out how to get feeds at races on their own.
Last year, I was fortunate enough to have two co-managers come on board: Christian Foster, former professional cyclist with many great ties to the Athens community, and Brian Molloy, owner of The Hub Bicycles.
Raleigh: Who are the team’s key sponsors?
EM: We place a huge value on each and every sponsor, as each one of them is key to our program. United Healthcare of Georgia has been involved with the team for four years now.
Also important is our partnership with Raleigh Bicycles. Getting on board with such a great name in bicycles is really exciting and seeing how quickly Raleigh is gaining traction in the high-end road bike market and being a part of that is greatly rewarding for us.
The team is outfitted with Raleigh Militis 3 bikes for 2013. These gloss black on matte black machines are outfitted with Industry Nine wheels and Shimano Ultegra and Ultegra Di2 drivetrains. The riders absolutely love their bikes and are excited to get out there and spread the word.
Raleigh: Here’s the complete list of Raleigh sponsored cycling teams:
Raleigh U.K. UCI Continental Pro Road Team
Team United Healthcare of Georgia powered by 706P
American Classic Elite Mountain Bike Team
Aetna Road Team
Gates Belt Drive Single-Speed Cyclocross Team
Northwest Sho-Air Mountain Bike Team
Recycled Cycles Road Team
Keller Rohrback Road Team
Hodala Single-Speed Cyclocross Team