Australian team out for stage wins
The Drapac Professional Cycling team returns to the Tour de Taiwan, which begins on Sunday in Taipei City, the scene of their overall victories in 2012 and 2013 thanks to Rhys Pollock and Bernard Sulzberger.
The Tour de Taiwan is the first of several forays into Asia for the newly promoted Australian Pro-Continental outfit for 2014 and Directeur Sportif Henk Vogels believes that the team is well placed to taste further success on the island formally known as, Formosa.
"There are some hard finishes so we've got some good riders – I know that Robbie Hucker's going quite well and I've got faith in our two sprinters," said Vogels.
"Generally in races like this, there will be one day where a breakaway will stick and you'll gain some time. That, paired with some of the harder finishes are going to be very important for the overall. "
While the team contains riders capable of challenging for GC victory in the five day race, the objective of the day will stage wins.
"The overall is also very important but we'll just play it day-by-day and be aggressive like we have all year."
Drapac's team for Taiwan will consist of Robbie Hucker, Ben Johnson, Malcolm Rudolph, Wes Sulzberger and Wouter Wippert who claimed the first win of 2014 at the New Zealand Cycle Classic in January.
"After New Zealand it's good to have Mal [Rudolph] back with me again – the trust that we are developing gives me extra confidence for the sprints in Taiwan," said Wippert. "We have a strong team so we will go there with a certain level of expectation."
Despite riding to a silver medal at the Oceania Road Championships Bernie Sulzberger, having since received treatment for an infected tooth, will be unable to defend his Taiwan title.
Sulzberger will be replaced by his younger brother Wes who said that given he has similar strengths to that of Bernard, the race could play into his hands.
"It would be nice if I could repeat his win, just a bit of a name change, that would be really satisfying," Wes Sulzberger said. "I'm feeling like I'm in pretty good form at the moment so hopefully we can do something. The form's been building."
Having won the race for the last two years, Vogels said that any increased focus on Drapac's performance would be purely external as the five riders competing in 2014 would not be under added pressure to deliver a similar result.
"It's only pressure if they put it on themselves. It's not going to come from the team, that's for sure."
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