Paris-Nice and Strade Bianche first major tests of the spring
The European season is now fully underway with RadioShack-Nissan and BMC stretched to near full capacity as they prepare for races in three countries over the weekend.
Paris-Nice will give both teams their first chance to impress in a European WorldTour race, after strong showings in the Santos Tour Down Under. Andreas Klöden, Andy Schleck and Fränk Schleck will combine for the first time at the WorldTour level when they line-up together for the "Race to the Sun". Having only once raced together in the Trofeo de Mallorca this year, the week long stage-race is sure to be a good gauge for how they'll work as a team later in the year.
BMC's line-up has a classics flavour to it, with former world champion Thor Hushovd riding in France in preparation for Milan-San Remo, and the cobbled one day races later in the month. The team does bring young American Tejay van Garderen, who is considered as possibility for a high GC finish, but they'll be taking things day by day.
"There are a lot of stages with a lot of opportunities and we have a team that can do something in all of them," said BMC director sportif Verbrugghe.
BMC's star recruit Philippe Gilbert will be riding the Strade Bianche with the Belgian set to lead the team as defending champion in Italy. RadioShack-Nissan's classic's hope Fabian Cancellara will also be there, 'Spartacus' having won on the gravel roads once before in 2008.
RadioShack-Nissan will also taking on racing in Belgium to complete a heavy schedule for the team. 3 Days of West-Flanders will be a good chance for Jesse Sergent to impress in the time trial, and is a good chance depending on form for the overall.
RadioShack-Nissan: Jan Bakelants, Markel Irizar, Andreas Klöden, Maxime Monfort, Joost Posthuma, Andy Schleck, Fränk Schleck and Jens Voigt
BMC Racing Team: Brent Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Thor Hushovd, Klaas Lodewyck, Amaël Moinard, Taylor Phinney, Tejay van Garderen, Danilo Wyss.
3 Days of West-Flanders
RadioShack-Nissan: Matthew Busche, Jakob Fuglsang, Ben King, Giacomo Nizzolo, Thomas Rohregger, Jesse Sergent, Robert Wagner and Oliver Zaugg
RadioShack-Nissan: Daniele Bennati, Fabian Cancellara, Laurent Didier, Tony Gallopin, Ben Hermans, Yaroslav Popovych, Gregory Rast and Hayden Roulston