Following his sixth place finish at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Warren Barguil heads to England to race for the first time to lead the Giant-Alpecin team at the second edition of the Tour de Yorkshire. The Frenchman is coming off a successful week at the Ardennes Classics, improving from 15th at Amstel Gold Race, to ninth at La Flèche Wallonne and finished with his his best result yet in a monument.
Giant-Alpecin coach Luke Roberts will direct the team at the 2.HC three-stage race, kicking off with the 184km stage 1 from Beverly to Settle, with stage 2 taking the peloton from Otley to Doncaster over 135.5km and concludes with the challenging 196km stage 3 from Middlesbrough to Scarborough.
"The Tour de Yorkshire was a very successful and well-received event last year, boasting huge crowds similar to those seen at the Tour de France depart in Yorkshire. We are very much looking forward to competing in the race," said Roberts. "The course can be quite brutal, with small roads and some very steep climbs throughout the stages."
The team are yet to win a race in season 2016 but bring a six-rider squad that will be capable of challenging for victory across the race with sprinter Nikias Arndt and Barguil on the final day.
"We are heading there with Warren Barguil, who is showing some good form at the moment after his 6th place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and will be looking to test his legs on the harder stages. Also, Nikias Arndt is in his final preparation phase leading up to the Giro and will be a real contender for a stage win in the sprints. The general classification is not a specific focus for us in Yorkshire," added Roberts.
While the men will be in Yorkshire for three days, the women's race in 2016 is a one-day affair with a bunch sprint the expected outcome. However the rolling terrain of the Yorkshire roads and the English weather ensure it won't be a straightforward day of racing.
As coach Rudi Kemna explains, the team has been built around Kirchmann who has several top-ten results to her name, along with victory at the Drentse Acht van Westerveld, in her first season with the squad.
"It is the first time we are competing in Yorkshire and we are really looking forward to taking part in this edition," said Kemna. "Leah is going to be our leader and she will have strong support from the team. We will aim to put Leah in a good position before the key moments of the race but we have to aware of the weather conditions, which can be tough in Yorkshire.
"The parcours contains a lot of hills and narrow roads making it a difficult finale. If the race comes back together for a sprint we will go for Leah who is in good shape at the moment and can aim for a podium finish."
Giant-Alpecin for Tour de Yorkshire: Nikias Arndt, Warren Barguil, Bert De Backer, Koen de Kort, Carter Jones and Lars van der Haar.
Liv-Plantur for Women's Tour de Yorkshire: Leah Kirchmann, Floortje Mackaij, Sara Mustonen, Riejanne Markus, Carlee Taylor and Molly Weaver.