National Criterium Champ Kirk O'Bee returns to Health Net Presented by Maxxis for '08.

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The Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis made one final roster addition this week by re-signing veteran sprinter and one-day specialist Kirk O’Bee for the 2008 season.

© Casey Gibson
Kirk O'Bee renewed with Health Net p/b by Maxxis (picture: Casey Gibson)

"We’re really fortunate and excited to have a rider of Kirk’s quality back with the squad for the coming season," noted team directeur sportif Mike Tamayo.

O’Bee is also pleased to be back in Health Net – Maxxis colors for next season. "I’m really comfortable working with this team,” he said. “I know everyone. I had fun racing with these guys last year. We have a good squad and I want to help keep things going."

More importantly, O’Bee adds, "My son Sam is glad I’ll be able to wear the Health Net-Maxxis Stars and Stripes jersey next season."

After a relatively quiet 2006 season, O’Bee got back to his winning ways in 2007, posting a particularly strong second half of the season. He scored two stage wins and third overall at the Nature Valley Grand Prix, as well as a stage win at the Cascade Classic. He then capped off his summer with his second career USPro Criterium Championship in August.

"Kirk really returned to top form last season," Tamayo noted. "It’s good to see the old O’Bee back."

The Criterium Championship will once again be one of O’Bee’s primary goals for the 2008 season. "I want to go back and win the race outright this season," he said. O’Bee finished second in the race under treacherous, rainy conditions. But as the first American across the line in the 'open' format race, he earned the national champion’s jersey.

O’Bee has spent much of this off-season focusing on the track, with an eye toward trying to qualify for the Beijing Olympics this summer, though he knows this might be a long shot.

"I’m going to the Los Angeles world cup in January and try to make the U.S. talent pool for Beijing," he said. "I basically need to podium to get a chance at the national team."

His primary event will be the points race, but he is also looking to compete in the Madison as well. His first main test will be the six-day race in his adopted home town of Vancouver, British Columbia, starting December 31st, where he’ll race the Madison with Kenny Williams. "I’m trying to convince him to do the L.A. world cup with me as well," he said. O’Bee added that his son Sam is training hard for the Kiddie Kilo at the Vancouver six-day as well.

O’Bee will kick off his road season in March, with an eye toward building his form in preparation for the Philly Week races, now known as the Commerce Bank Triple Crown, the first week of June.

Kirk O’Bee

Date of Birth/Location:
     April 9, 1977; Grand Rapids, MI
Current Residence: North Vancouver, BC, Canada
Height/Weight: 5’9”  175 cm; 154 lbs/ 70 kilos
Years Pro: 8

Previous Teams:
Health Net Presented by Maxxis, 2006-07
Navigators Insurance, 2001-05
U.S. Postal Service, 2000
Mapei Stagiere, 1999

Strengths: Classics/one-day races

2007 Highlights:
USPro Criterium Champion
2 stage wins and 3rd Overall, Nature Valley Grand Prix
Stage win, Cascade Classic
1st Tour de Gastown

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