Janier Acevedo, Garmin-Sharp's newest signing, is aiming to show is strength during three decisive climbs at the Tour of California: Mount Hamilton, Mount Diablo and Mountain High. The Colombian hopes to show his value as an overall contender as he heads into his debut Tour de France.
"Our team has a lot of ambitions to win a lot of races," Acevedo told Cyclingnews. "I haven't done too much racing yet but I want to do well here and then I'll be racing the Tour de France, my first Tour, and my role again will be to do well during the climbing stages."
The climbing begins at the Tour of California during Stage 3's 177km race that starts in San Jose, ascends Mount Hamilton and finishes on the summit of Mount Diablo, gaining nearly 11,000ft of elevation. Although the stages in between will be challenging, the true climbing continues during Stage 6 with nearly 12,000ft of elevation and the summit on Mountain High North.
Last year, Acevedo surprised the overall contenders with Stage 3 win on the summit finish at Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. He reached the summit ahead of the BMC Racing's Tejay van Garderen, who eventually won the overall title. The performance moved him into the overall race lead, one of the biggest podium appearances for his then US domestic team Jamis-Hagens Berman.
He remained in the race lead for the following three days until Stage 5, when he missed the decisive split in crosswinds and was knocked into third place in the overall. He continued to slip into fifth place after the time trial but another strong performance during Stage 7 on Mount Diablo, where he finished second to Leopold König (NetApp-Endura), put him back on the podium in third place overall.
"I know Stage 3 very well," Acevedo said. "I know Mount Hamilton and Mount Diablo. I was second on Diablo last year and I know that it's a very hard climb. I'm ready for it. I don't know Mount High but I'm sure it will be hard too, and a good climb for me."
Garmin-Sharp has a strong team competing in the eight-stage race this week with potential for stage wins and overall placings. Many of its riders had two or three weeks of dedicated training prior to arriving to the west coast.
Acevedo spent three weeks training at altitude in Antioquia, Colombia, in the Andes. His teammates include Tom Danielson, Rohan Dennis, Caleb Fairly, Phil Gaimon, Alex Howes, Ben King and Nate Brown.
"This year, I won't always have the same amount of opportunity that I did last year," Acevedo said. "I have teammates that are very good and very strong. Our first priority is to win the overall race with whoever is the strongest. There is a lot of teamwork involved and we always work together. We work to win the race and for the guys who have the best opportunities."
Upon the conclusion of the Tour of California, Acevedo will turn his attention to Tour preparations with the hopes of winning stage in the Alps or the Pyrénées in July.