Omega Pharma-QuickStep has named the team that they hope will bring them success at the Giro d'Italia this month. The team will be led by Rigoberto Urán, who finished second in last year’s race behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), as they focus on the general classification.
"For the team it will be a kind of milestone," said directeur sportif Davide Bramati. "For the first time in years, the team will be present with ambitions to do well in the GC and support a rider who was already on the podium last year, Rigoberto Urán. Even our approach to the race has changed compared to prior years. We did some recon on the key stages and the riders that have to stay near Urán did a unique race program to be in top condition for this race. Everyone knows the goal, which is to try to do well with Urán and give him full support to fight for a top GC place in the last week of the Giro. The team is strong and is complete.”
Urán moved to the team from Sky over the winter with expressed intention of being the team’s Grand Tour leader. After Mark Cavendish chose to go to the Tour of California instead of riding the Giro, Urán now holds a large portion of the team's ambitions. The Colombian will be supported by a strong team of climbers in Serge Pauwels, Gianluca Brambilla, Wout Poels and Pieter Serry. Iljo Keisse and Julian Vermote will be reserved for team duties on the flat days and Thomas de Gendt - who won on the Stelvio in 2012 — gives them a wildcard to play in the breakaways.
The opening stages shouldn't challenge the team with regards to ascending, but Bramati is cautious about making it through to Italy....
The organisers of the 2014 Tour of California published the provisional start list for the race, with 2012 Tour de France winner and multi-time Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins in the starring role for Team Sky.
The 2014 edition of the race features a 20km time trial, the mountain finishes on Mount Diablo and Mountain High and the final stage in Thousand Oaks as the decisive stages for the general classification.
Among the favorites, along with Wiggins, is last year's podium finisher Janier Acevedo (Garmin-Sharp), who, together with Tom Danielson and Rohan Dennis will attempt to give Garmin-Sharp its first overall victory in the race.
The 2013 overall winner, Tejay van Garderen will not be in attendance, but BMC is bringing a strong team with American contender Peter Stetina. The team will also include Thor Hushovd, Taylor Phinney and sprinter Greg Van Avermaet, a podium finisher in nearly every spring classic.
After a good week racing in the Ardennes, 21-year-old neo-pro Daan Olivier also flies over for the race which starts with a 193km road stage around Sacramento on May 11 and is likely to end in a bunch sprint. The next day is an individual time trial with the first real test for the GC men coming on stage three to Mount Diablo.
"We head out to California with two objectives for the team — to win a stage with John and also see how the younger guys can do in the GC," said Team Giant-Shimano coach Aike Visbeek. "Lawson, Chad and Daan will have the chance here to see what they can do and we will decide after the time trial and mountain stage who is our GC leader.
"We want to not only focus on getting a result here, but also on the development of these young riders — both Chad and Lawson finished in the top 10 here last year but this year they are in a...
Team targeting stage victories and GC in five-day event
Wiggle-Honda have announced its team for the inaugural Women's Tour, which starts in Oundle, Northamptonshire on Wednesday, with the dual objectives of stage wins and a good GC placing. The team which made its debut in the peloton last year, have embraced the new event and team manager and rider Rochelle Gilmore is looking forward to when the flag drops to start the racing on stage one.
"It's finally here," said Gilmore. "Tomorrow we will all meet together in the UK at the race hotel and it all becomes a reality. A world class UCI 2.1 category race in the UK, our team's home country. I'm not usually nervous, especially when all my athletes are on top form, however it's probably a good sign.
"We're in shape to perform well so we'll be putting pressure on ourselves. Our six athletes will take the start line in good health and injury free so they've already ticked the first box…. And are ready for day one. I shouldn't be nervous, a couple of our Wiggle Honda athletes have won a home Olympic Games Gold so they know, and respond well to pressure."
The six-rider team includes two Olympic champions in Dani King and Laura Trott and both are looking forward to racing on home roads. For Trott, stage four is set to be a special day as the race starts her home town of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire.
"I am really excited about riding the Women's Tour," Trott said. "To have such a major race in the UK is amazing and a great way to show people how far women's road cycling has come. I am obviously most excited about the stage that goes through my hometown."
Finishing just 58 seconds behind race winner Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), the 32-year-old Queensland native with burgeoning Jens Voigt-like cult status was working with a weakened Lotto squad that included both André Greipel and a Greg Henderson returning from injury and not at full strength.
"I am very happy with my overall standings in Turkey," Hansen told Cyclingnews. "A top 10 finish was the goal. I could have perhaps done better, but the attacks on stage six [into Selcuk] took a lot out of me."
Now, barring misfortune, the 'ironman' of professional cycling will attempt to complete the Grand Tour triple, which includes the Giro, the Tour de France in July and the Vuelta a España in August-September, for the third straight year and his eighth Grand Tour in a row dating back to the Vuelta in 2011.
"I just love it," said Hansen on why he continues his current Grand Tour streak. "I think the first year [my teammates] thought I was crazy. [The] second year they just thought I'm trying to do it again and this year they are just accepting it's normal for me now."
The eight-day race starts in Sacramento and it will be the first for the team since Belkin took over naming rights prior to the 2013 Tour de France that the Dutch team will be in their green and black kit. Laurens ten Dam will lead the team at the race as he looks for a high general classification placing.
"I'm really glad to ride this race. After the Tour de France, it's my main goal. I finished sixth once, so that gives me some confidence. As a team, we'd like to give the sponsor a present," said ten Dam,
"It's a country I love. After the Tour of California, I'll stay for an altitude training camp and some vacation time. I'm going to train my butt off, but I'll fish as well. I'm even going to visit some national parks"
For Sports Director Nico Verhoeven, success at the race is a season goal and said that he expects the team to give a little bit extra to achieve its aims even with the absence of Gesink.
"This is the Tour de France of the United States and we would like to make our sponsor proud," said Verhoeven. "We'll try to do what we always do. We aim to ride an attacking and attractive race, and hopefully we can bag some results."
InCycle once again go behind the scenes in professional cycling and this time link up with Team Sky soigneur Peter Verbeken. The team call their soigneur’s careers but the role is a traditional one with Verbeken - a former professional with over 15 years of experience – a vital part in the team’s racing preparation.
Verbeken takes care of things that the riders don’t have to, allowing the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Edvald Boasson Hagen the chance to fully focus on racing. Typically Verbeken will rise early, preparing food for the riders on race or training days. He’ll then follow the team throughout a race, often positioning himself by the side of the road to offer assistance during the feedzone.
And even though the riders’ race finishes when they cross the line it’s just the start of another part of Verbeken’s day as he then flips into recovery mode, making sure the riders are fresh and ready to go for the following day’s action.
In this video from InCycle, Verbeken takes you through his routine, with behind the scenes footage from one of the sport’s most successful teams.
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