Phil Gaimon won stage 1 of the Tour de San Luis ahead of Emiliano Contreras and Marc de Maar.
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Garmin-Sharp ready to defend jersey on first mountain stage
Phil Gaimon's second day racing for Garmin-Sharp will see him resplendent in the Tour de San Luis's leader's jersey, and the 27-year-old American faces the Argentinean race's first test today with a mountain finish on the Mirador de El Potrero.
Of all the stages in the 2014 Tour de San Luis, this stage is the one most familiar to the six Garmin-Sharp riders as their hotel is situated within sight of the climb and the team is well acquainted with the sinuous, 4.8km ascent to the finish.
After winning yesterday's opening stage from the day's early break, Gaimon starts stage 2 with a 4:35 advantage over all the pre-race general classification favourites, and the Garmin-Sharp team has every confidence in Gaimon's ability to defend the jersey.
"He has a good cushion," Garmin-Sharp team director Chann McRae told Cyclingnews. "The optimal scenario is for him to reach the climb with the bunch and let him race from there. We'll see how the race plays out before that, and we'll have to do a lot of things to make that happen. I think there are other teams who have ambitions as well so we'll work together with those other teams."
Gaimon has arrived in San Luis in solid form having put in a good winter's block of training and his lean physique will pay dividends on each of the Tour de San Luis's trio of mountain finishes.
"He's a skinny guy, and I know his numbers and they're definitely those of a climber - that's one of the reasons we signed him," said McRae.
There's also a 19.2km time trial looming on stage 5, another test for the Garmin-Sharp debutant.
"He worked on his time trialing this winter and before we signed him we told him it was going to be really important for him this year," said McRae. "He's been working on it, his position's good so he's going to go as fast as he can."
Three of Gaimon's teammates in Argentina are also making their Garmin-Sharp debut - Janier Acevedo, Nate Brown and Ben King - and the latter two are likely to be doing yeoman's work on the front today.
"We have such a good lead and we're hoping to just keep things under control today," King told Cyclingnews. "We're hoping for a controlled start but it's windy out there and there's six-man teams so it's more difficult to control.
"I put in a good base this winter and I feel like we've got a good team, fit and ready to go. It looks like it will be me and Nate rolling mostly today and the other guys will take care of Phil on the mountain."
So much of success in cycling concerns one's confidence, and Gaimon's teammates appreciate his composed demeanor.
"He's really confident which is nice for us to work for a guy who believes in himself," said King. "We believe in him and we think he's got a chance to take it (leader's jersey) to the finish.
"A champagne toast on the first race of the season is definitely a good way to start with a new team."