T-Mobile is sending a solid and experienced line-up of Classics specialists to contest the Amstel Gold Race this Sunday, with Alexandre Vinokourov, Matthias Kessler, Steffen Wesemann and Erik Zabel leading the charge.
For rookie pro Bas Giling, however, the 2005 edition of Amstel will be his first, but the race parcours will be familiar territory for the young Dutchman - he lives just five kilometres from Maastricht and claims to knows every climb and curve along the 250km route that crosses Limburg, the hilly southern region sandwiched between Germany and Belgium.
"I know every climb on this course. I train regularly on these hills," said Giling, whose strong rides in recent weeks have earned him the nod of approval from sporting director Mario Kummer.
Kessler has said he feels at home on the rolling parcours, with the 25 year-old German rider finishing fifth and sixth in the last two editions of the race, which starts in Maastricht and finishes in Valkenberg.
"There is good depth to our challenge," said T-Mobile press officer Luuc Eisenga.
"In Kessler, we have a rider who has already demonstrated how much he likes the parcours here. But it pays to be cautious. What makes the race so tricky is the fact that you never have more than 5km of flat," he said.
"The constant changes of direction make it difficult for the riders to know where the wind is coming from," continued Eisenga, who is expecting another gripping finale in the race. "But they have to stay focused, so that they still have enough in the tank for the last climb up the Cauberg."