Cannondale ready for the cobbles

Team for Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali also announced

Cannondale kicks-off the first of three Belgium races at Dwars Door Vlaanderen, followed by E3 Harelbeke on Friday and Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, March 30 with Peter Sagan the protected rider as he prepares for his assault on the cobbles of the Tour Flanders.

The team's goal of the Classics, Ronde Van Vlaanderen, which takes place on Sunday, April 6 with Sagan as leaders and lead with the exception of  Dwars Door Vlaanderen, the Slovakian champion will attend all the races leading up to Paris-Roubaix.

Italian Oscar Gatto will lead the team as captain at Dwars Door Vlaanderen as the defending champion having nipped Thomas Voeckler on the line last year. The 29-year-old will also play a key role beside Sagan during the Classics campaign but will have his own chances at Dwars Door Vlaanderen.

"Last year's win was a quality step in my career, and it was such an important and great experience," said Gatto. "The Belgium Classics are some of the most epic races of the season, and the ones in which I feel I can showcase my strengths most. I know that I must support Peter during this campaign. Helping him win is my goal, and I will be ready to do what the team needs of me."

"In Dwars Door Vlaanderen, I'll have a different role, and it will be big chance to show that I can achieve high results. I want to make up for that with a strong performance and an important result."

Also on the startline at Dwars Door Vlaanderen will be Maciej Bodnar, American Ted King, Slovenian Kristijan Koren, Austrian Matthias Krizek and Italians, Paolo Borghini and Alan Marangoni who are also racing at Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem.

"This team has been selected to help Sagan in the best way possible," said team director Stefano Zanatta, who will lead the team in these three races. "These are dependable riders and experts on cobbles who already know what to expect. We have been training since December to facilitate harmony and understand the inner workings of these races in order to succeed. Our greatest strength must be team spirit and determination - we have to ride with no fear of anything or anyone."

While Cannondale has riders in Belgium for the Northern Classics and in Spain at the Volta a Catalunya, a third team will attend the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali in Italy from March 26-30.

The team in Italy will include Damiano Caruso together with Elia Viviani, who is starting the road to the Giro d'Italia after twenty days of rest, Fabio Sabatini who continues to work on improving his condition after along stop due to the injury, while Guillaume Boivin returns to racing after suffering bronchitis at Tour de Taiwan.

Besides the experienced riders, four young riders will have the chance to stand out and to look for an important result; Davide Villella, Davide Formolo, Matej Mohoric and Alberto Bettiol.

"We want to share the leadership among the experienced and the young riders" said team director Conte. "Caruso, Viviani, Sabatini and Boivin are here to work on their condition and, at the same time, to provide to the young guns an important support in terms of experience.

"We want to see Villella, Formolo, Mohoric and Bettiol measure themselves to search the result, in order to grow and to improve. It's an important experience for them and a useful test for rider such as Viviani who need to find confidence with the race and the results."

Dwars Door Vlaanderen team: Oscar Gatto, Maciej Bodnar, Edward King, Kristjan Koren, Matthias Krizek, Paolo Longo, Alan Marangoni and Marco Marcato.

Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali team: Damiano Caruso, Elia Vivani Fabio Sabatini Guillaume Boivin Davide Villella Davide Formolo Matej Mohoric and Alberto Bettiol.

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