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UHC’s John Murphy: Cavendish Can be Beaten

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May 12, 2015 – One story has dominated the 2015 Amgen Tour of California so far – Cavendish versus Sagan, Saxo Bank vs Etixx- Quick-Step – and so far, Etixx – Quick-Step and Cavendish have gotten the headlines. But there is an American rider on an American team knocking on the door. John Murphy of UHC finished fourth in both Stage One and Stage Two and is determined to get on the podium, and maybe, just maybe, get his tire across the line ahead of Cavendish and Sagan for what would be the biggest win of his career.

peloton/Darrell Parks

John Murphy is no stranger to World Tour sprints. He spent two years with BMC in Europe and has been a big part of United Healthcare’s European spring campaigns. He rode for the UHC program previously under the HealthNet banner in 2007, and was picked up again in 2013 for more than his sprinting ability. John made the early breakaway at the 2014 Paris Roubaix riding off the front through Arenberg and deep into the race proving he is more than a pure sprinter. But he can sprint, and fast, as his two US Pro Crit titles (2009/2014) attest to.

We caught up with John briefly at his team hotel after the finish of Stage Two and chatted about the hectic finishes. Does his team have the horsepower to match the big World Tour squads, are they getting any respect from Saxo and Etixx, and most importantly, can Cav be beaten?

[peloton] Have the finishes here been sketchy so far?

[John Murphy] Bunch sprints are always a little bit sketchy, so that’s nothing new. But the wide roads here in California have definitely helped.

[p] Does the UHC squad get respect from the big World Tour Squads? Do they give you a bit of room or squeeze you out?

[JM] Yeah, for sure our UnitedHealthcare Team gets some respect. We have been racing in Europe all spring and they definitely know we are a contributing factor in most sprints. So yeah, that’s not really a problem.

John Murphy sitting on Peter Sagan’s wheel during Stage Two, with his UHC teammates close by.

[p] Who are you relying on in the final kilometers?

[JM] The whole team is working for these sprints. Everyone contributes. In the last couple k’s, I’m leaning heavily on (Daniele) Ratto, Marco (Canola), Kiel (Reijnen), Tanner (Putt) and Danny (Summerhill). They have been crushing it.

[p] Does UHC have the horsepower to really take on Saxo and Etixx or are you playing off of their leadoffs?

[JM] For sure we have the horsepower on this team, but Saxo and Etixx have the responsibility. So they have control, but we are right behind them.

[p] What will it take to break through with a win or podium here?

[JM] To catch Cav off guard and have a little bit of luck at the same time. Cav is one of the fastest sprinters in the world, but he can be beaten.

Etixx – Quick-Step assuming the responsibility that comes with a leaders jersey worn by the fastest finisher in the race.

[p] Any stage coming up where you think you might be able to make the finish and Cav won’t? Maybe Stage 4 to Avila with the Tempesquet Canyon climb at 80K?

[JM] For sure I’m looking at Stage Four. Will we get rid of Cav? That’s a tough one. He can get over some hard climbs! But I think Stage Four will be good for us as a team.

[p] UHC is sponsored by Wilier and you have a number of platforms available, which Wilier are you riding? How’s it working for the sprints we have seen?

[JM] I’m riding the Cento1 SR again this year. It’s super stiff and fast- can’t ask for anything more!

RELATED: The Wilier Cento1 Air Reviewed.