The name and kit may have undergone alterations, and Bjarne Riis may no longer be the team owner, but it was business as usual for the Tinkoff-Saxo riders on their pre-season training camp in Gran Canaria, as Alberto Contador and his teammates put the finishing touches to their preparations for 2014.
Unlike in recent seasons, when he has started racing in January at the Tour de San Luis, Contador’s campaign begins a little later, at the Volta ao Algarve, and he was happy to take advantage of the fine weather to log significant training miles during his stint in the Canary Islands.
Contador’s primary target in 2014 is July’s Tour de France, where Roman Kreuziger, 5th overall last season, will be his chief lieutenant. The Czech rider will expect to shine again at the Ardennes classics in April, and he already appears close to his racing weight.
Tinkoff-Saxo’s Giro d’Italia challenge will be led by Rafal Majka and Nicolas Roche, who both delivered the best stage racing performances of their careers last season. Roche’s preparation has been beset by injury in recent weeks, but he was back on the bike in Gran Canaria and confident that he will be ready for the big rendezvous in May.
And in spite of his sale of the team’s WorldTour licence to Oleg Tinkov and the ongoing investigation into his activities by the Danish Anti-Doping Agency, Bjarne Riis maintains a hands-on role in the management of the squad, telling Cyclingnews that he wants the team to challenge for major honours in 2014. “Hopefully we win a little bit more than last year and then build it up the year after that,” he said. “It’s important to win. We need to win and be strong.”