MTN-Qhubeka given a chance to shine on dirt roads and Roma Maxima
RCS Sport, the organisers of the Strade Bianche and Roma Maxima races have named the teams that will compete in the Italian one-day races on the weekend of March 8 and 9, with a mix of Italian and international WorldTour and Professional Continental teams securing places, including MTN-Qhubeka, who was overlooked for a wild card invitation to the Giro d'Italia.
18 teams of eight riders will contest the Strade Bianche race on the iconic dirt roads of the Chianti hills near Siena in Tuscany.
2013 winner Moreno Moser is expected to lead the Cannondale team in the race. Also invited are Astana, BMC, Lampre-Merida, Movistar, Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, Giant-Shimano, Katusha, Team Sky, Trek Factory Racing, Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani-CSF, Colombia, IAM Cycling, MTN-Qhubeka, Unitedhealthare and Yellow Fluo.
17 teams of eight riders will head to the Eternal City for Roma Maxima on Sunday March 9, with the same teams in action apart from Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Tinkoff-Saxo. Ag2r-La Mondiale secures a place after Blel Kadri won Roma Maxima last year.
There is no place for Net App–Endura. However the German team will ride Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo.
Most teams will field their Classics squad in both races, before heading to the Tuscan coast for the start of Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday March 12.
It appears that Orica-GreenEdge has again opted to miss the weekend of racing to focus on the opening team time trial stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.
Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) are all expected to challenge for victory at Strade Bianche.