Finn hoping for a change of fortune at the Ardennes Classics
Kjell Carlström will head to Amstel Gold Race as one of Sky's road captains and while the Finnish national Champion has endured a tough start to his season, he is confident he can help Simon Gerrans to a good result on Sunday.
Carlström's debut season with Sky has been beset by disruptions with crashes and illness preventing him reaching a peak in his early season programme. He is hopeful the next week of racing will provide a change in fortune.
"In my first race, at the Tour of Andalucia, I got ill, at Paris-Nice I crashed, and then at the Tour of the Basque Country I was suffering with allergies. It is time to turn all that around at the Ardennes," said Carlström on the Team Sky website.
Carlström predicted a pair of big weekends for his teammate, Simon Gerrans, who will act as Sky's protected rider over the seven days. The two have ridden identical race programmes throughout their first season together.
"I was with Simon at the Basque Country and I know he can do well in each of the next three races, even if they are all tough," said Carlström. "I think that Amstel or Liège will suit him the best, but he has to be on a really good day and everything has to be working perfectly."
The Finn is scheduled to compete for Sky in all three Ardennes Classics – Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. His participation at Amstel on Sunday will be the fifth of his nine-year professional career.
"I have done Amstel quite a few times and I raced the Valkenburg at the World Championships in 1998, so the route is very familiar for me. Sure, it has been a while, but I still remember," said the 33-year old.
Almost all of Sky's line-up for the race have already assembled in Maastricht. Bradley Wiggins' scheduled participation at Amstel was cancelled on Saturday due to the ongoing disruption to European air travel caused by Volcano Eyjafjallajökull, but the remainder of the team carried out a reconnaissance of the course on Thursday and Friday.
Sky will confirm their final roster for the race on Saturday afternoon, though, Kjell Carlström and Gerrans are expected to race alongside: Russell Downing, Chris Froome, Mathew Hayman, Lars-Petter Nordhaug and Davide Vigano.