Janier Acevedo wants to remind the peloton just how well he can climb at the season-opening Tour de San Luis. After wrestling with health problems during his last two years with WorldTour team Cannondale, the Colombian climber has returned to the US-based outfit Jamis in good form and ready to shoot for top results in the event’s two summit finishes - Alto del Amago and Filo Sierras Comechingones.
“I was able to start my preparations well,” Acevedo told Cyclingnews two days before the start of the seven-day race in Argentina. “I was healthy and that was very important for me considering my last two seasons. So while still early in the year, I am feeling good.
“There are two uphill finishes in the race and those are the ones I will target.”
The Tour de San Luis marks the opening race for many of the best teams in the world. All-rounders like Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) will use the race to test their legs against one another and to set the initial fitness benchmark ahead of bigger goals later in the season at the Giro d’Iatlia and the Tour de France.
Acevedo wants to see how he stacks up against the big-name climbers, head-to-head on the slopes of the stage 4 final climb to Alto del Amago, stage 6 climb to Filo Sierras Comechingones and even on the lesser-but-still-important climb up El Mirador del Potrero on stage 3.
He also wants to finish high up in the overall classification by the time the race finishes in San Luis on January 24. He understands that his Continental-level team, which will include Brayan Sanchez, Sebastian Haedo, Eric Marcotte, Kyle Murphy and Luis Amaran, won’t have the horsepower to really contest the 21km opening team time trial in El Durazno on January 18, but he believes he can claw back some of that lost time in the mountains.
“First of all, I want to feel good, and the team time trial will be important as some of the best climbers will already put in a good time on us,” Acevedo said. “So we will start from behind but hopefully I can get time back on the hard days and finish up there on the GC.”
Jamis’ Argentine director Sebastian Alexandre first signed Acevedo for the 2013 season, after noticing his exceptional climbing skills while racing for the Colombian team Gobernation de Antioquia - Indeportes Antiquia. He didn’t disappoint Alexandre that year having achieved third overall at both the Tour of California and Tour of Utah, and fourth overall at the USA Pro Challenge.
After only one season, he moved up to the WorldTour ranks with Jonathan Vaughters’ Cannondale team but those two seasons (2014 and 2015) didn't go as well as everyone had anticipated. He cites a series of health problems for his lack of results. Some of those health issues included head colds and tonsillitis in 2014, and then tendonitis and a virus during 2015, which kept him from racing for two months.
“Those were two not-so-good years for me,” Acevedo said. “I had a lot of health issues that stopped me from showing what I could do at a WorldTour level.”
Acevedo stepped down from the WorldTour and re-signed with Alexnadre’s team for 2016, a familiar place, where he hopes to get back to dominant performances in the climbs and at US stage races.
“I came back to Jamis because it's a team that I felt very comfortable with in 2013,” Acevedo said. “It was like a family, and I think I can give my 100 per cent in that environment.
“The races that I will aim to do well in this year are Tour of California, Tour of Utah and in Colorado; those are my goals.”
The Jamis team will reunite after the Tour de San Luis for an official training camp in mid-March in California.