Keough, Abbott Win for UHC; SmartStop Rider on Podium in Mexico

The bicycle racing season started on a triumphant note for Maxxis over the weekend, as UnitedHealthcare’s Luke Keough and Mara Abbott each took victories, and Sharon Laws, Isaac Bolivar and SmartStop’s Jure Kocjan were on podiums in major races.

Keough won the first stage of the Tour de Taiwan, held March 9 in Taipei, with what called “a masterpiece of pure American criterium-style racing.” Keough said that having crashed in wet conditions in the same race in 2013, he was ready to handle this year’s rainy weather. “I knew what to do this time,” he told “It was a little crazy at the end with a few crashes that took some of my teammates down. But I still had Martin Irvyne and John Murphy staying together to lead me out. They did a perfect job.” Keough noted that the victory, the first international win of his career, had added significance because Maxxis, a longtime sponsor of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, is based in Taiwan.

Abbott, who rides for UHC’s women’s team, topped the podium at the 99-kilometer Grand Prix Oriente, held March 7 in El Salvador. After a successful attack by teammate Katie Hall set her up in the grueling last climb, Abbott attacked and held the lead to the finish line. Teammate Sharon Laws took third place. “I am blown away by the hospitality of the country and thrilled to be able to represent UnitedHealthcare and cycling in general with a win like this. I am even more excited I was able to share the podium with my teammate Sharon,” Abbott told The race was the second of a three-stage prelude to the Vuelta a El Salvador, scheduled for March 11-16. A day earlier after a similar attack by Laws, Abbott earned third place on the podium in the first Grand Prix race. 

Another UHC rider took to the podium when Bolivar took third place in the final general classification at the Tour de Langkawi, held February 27- March 10 in Malaysia. Bolivar also turned in a stellar performance in the mountains classification, taking second place overall.

Team SmartStop claimed a place on the podium at Stage 4 of the Vuelta Mexico, held March 7. Kocjan took second place in the race, which covered more than 109 kilometers from Tlaxcala to Huamantla. 

Maxxis congratulates Luke Keough and Mara Abbott on their victories and thanks Sharon Laws, Isaac Bolivar, Jure Kocjan and all of its riders for their fine performances.