Steering a steady course
Showing the benefits of a several new signings, the Navigators Insurance team had one of their best performances to date during the recent Settimana Internazionale Coppi-Bartali. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes speaks with the man behind the helm, directeur-sportif Ed Beamon, discussing with him targets such as Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Georgia, new signings such as climbing specialist Cesar Grajales, time-trialling 'beast' Nathan O'Neill and Irish champion David O'Loughlin, plus the team's plans for the future.
Scorching to an impressive third place in the team time trial, the New York-based Navigators team finished 17 seconds off the pace set by Fassa Bortolo and 11 behind Liquigas-Bianchi, but in beating ProTour squads such as Davitamon-Lotto, Quick.Step, Lampre-Caffita, Gerolsteiner and Domina Vacanze, they showed that their eleventh place in the Tour of the Mediterranean TTT was no fluke.
It was a morale-boosting ride for the Professional Continental team, and while the rest of the race didn't go quite as they hoped, they came out of the race with renewed focus for the other races in their European spring campaign.
Principal of these is the ProTour Gent-Wevelgem on April 6, an event which directeur sportif Ed Beamon has targeted as one of the big goals of the team this year. Two years ago, Henk Vogels finished a close second in the race. Confidence boosted by this, Beamon is hoping to see another strong performance by the Navigators Insurance riders.
'" think one of things that is appealing about Gent-Wevelgem as far as the semi-classics go is that it is a fairly straightforward race in terms of what needs to be done to do well there," he explained to Cyclingnews. "As a rule, Belgian racing can be fairly complicated because of the roads; it is really an understanding of the roads and the race courses themselves which plays dramatically into tactics in Belgium. It takes time in that area to learn that. I think that is why Belgians do so well in Belgian races, because they know the layout of the land. It takes a foreigner years to learn the intricacies.
"But, as the bigger races go, I think Gent-Wevelgem is one of those that is more straightforward. It suits powerful, fast guys and it is also over a distance that we can handle. 260 kilometres is a little bit extreme for the team, based on the races that we do, but when you look at the whole package, it fits the profile of what the team's potential strengths are. So, then it is a matter of execution. If the guys execute it right and if they have good form, I think we can be somewhat competitive in that race."