A multi-national Team Argos-Shimano squad is ready to contest the first Grand Tour of the 2013 season with John Degenkolb leading the Dutch WorldTour team at the Giro d'Italia. The 27-year-old German, who won five stages at the 2013 Vuelta a Espana, will make his Giro debut on Saturday with stage victories in mind.
"I hope to win a stage and we have a good team to achieve this," Degenkolb said. "The Giro d'Italia is a great race, I've already been looking to start this race for while as it will be my first one.
"After the Classics I was focusing on this race, I did lots of sprint exercises and of course longer endurance rides to strength my endurance especially for the longer and harder climbs we have to pass this Giro d'Italia. Our team is sending a good group to this race; I expect a good sprint train set-up with guys like Bert De Backer, Albert Timmer and lead-out man Koen de Kort who have plenty of experience."
"We have a clear goal in mind and that is sprinting for victory with John Degenkolb in this Giro d'Italia," added Team Argos-Shimano sports manager Addy Engels. "When the stages become more challenging we will use an offensive strategy and we will give the other guys the chance for a good result in a break."
Meantime Chinese rider Ji Cheng will ride his second Grand Tour having made his debut at the Vuelta a Espana last year.
"I will be more than satisfied if we can win a stage and if I finish the race,"said Ji. "I am expecting a huge fight."
Team Argos-Shimano Giro d'Italia roster:
Bert De Backer (Bel), Thomas Damuseau (Fra), John Degenkolb (Ger), Patrick Gretsch (Ger), Cheng Ji (Chn), Koen de Kort (Ned), Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe), Luka Mezgec (Slo), Albert Timmer (Ned)
The Pro Continental Colombia team, a wild card selection to the Giro d'Italia, will be led by the climbing duo of Darwin Atapuma and Fabio Duarte, who will try to live up to the great Colombian climbers' tradition at the Italian Grand Tour's iconic ascents. After a good first part of the season, Jarlinson Pantano and Robinson Chalapud will look to show off on the mountains as well, while Carlos Julian Quintero will handle a key support role plus show his quality as a breakaway rider. Wilson Marentes and Dalivier Ospina will protect the designated captains both on the flat and on the mountains, while veteran Leonardo Duque and youngster Edwin Avila will look for results in sprint finishes.
"The Giro is the core fixture of our season, and a race all of those guys have been dreaming of since their childhood," said Colombia general manager Claudio Corti. "We tried to setup a balanced group, capable of staying in the action in every race situation even if our main focus will be on the mountains, where our top athletes can show their best qualities. We are going to the Giro to show off and put on a big show, that is what everyone is expecting from us."
Colombia Giro d'Italia roster:
Darwin Atapuma (Col), Edwin Avila (Col), Robinson Chalapud (Col), Fabio Duarte (Col), Leonardo Duque (Col), Wilson Marentes (Col), Dalivier Ospina (Col), Jarlinson Pantano (Col), Carlos Julian Quintero (Col)