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Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo)
Vaughters confident about every race scenario
With Thor Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler and Tyler Farrar as leaders and contenders for victory, Garmin-Cervélo team is arguably the strongest of the 25 teams that will line-up for Saturday's Milan-San Remo.
Yet, as Mario Cipollini pointed out, that is also the team's dilemma. Do they ride aggressively and hope to distance the likes of Mark Cavendish or do they wait for the sprint and then ride for whoever is feeling strongest?
Hushovd, Haussler and Farrar have shown they are on form at either Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, yet all three would probably prefer a different scenario in the finale to bolster their own chances of victory.
Farrar admitted he hopes for a 50-rider sprint, Heinrich Haussler hopes for a group of ten riders, while Hushovd hinted he hopes there will be plenty of attacks on the Poggio. Perhaps the most important thing is that they ride as a team.
Team manager Jonathan Vaughters sat next to his trio of team leaders and confirmed to Cyclingnews he will be in the team car for the race. The riders had yet to hold their final team strategy meeting and Vaughters rightly refused to reveal any details of how they will race.
"The ability to be able to confuse everyone is our greatest asset so that needs to remain that way. If I say (the race plan) we'd lose all the tactical advantage we've got," Vaughters said.
However he did hint that Garmin-Cervélo could opt for an aggressive race strategy.
"I think we have to play some fairly atypical tactics," he said. "The race can develop three or four different ways and we have a different rider most suited to that. It must be a real pain in the ass for the other teams because whatever you do, you're f___d."
"Of course, other teams have a more singular strategy and that's pretty good too. They (Hushovd, Haussler and Farrar) have to be the most cohesive unit and the best on the day. I'm sure there will be another team that is at its best, so we have to be too."
Confident and determined
Hushovd, Haussler and Farrar all seemed confident and determined during the press conference, but there was also an air of tension and ambition. It was clear all three want to win the first major Classic of the season, and each believes he can win.
Wisely they know riding together gives them all a huge advantage.
"We just have to play the cards right and if we do, I think with this team we have a really big chance to win," Hushovd said.
"We'll just have to see how it is after the Cipressa and after the Poggio, then get things together and do the right thing. We haven't talked about it yet, but we'll make everything clear so that everyone knows what they have to do."
"I think I'm one of many that can win this race. I also know I have good form and normally should be up there. Compared to last year, I'm much, much better."
Haussler often speaks from the heart but made sure he stayed on message so close the race.
"It's a race I've always thought about especially after coming so close (in 2009). Obviously I'd like to win the race but we've got three leaders who can win, so we'll see what happens and see what the tactics are going to be like and see how it goes," he said.
"I'm pretty much where I want to be because I rode Paris-Nice as training after my time at altitude."
"I rode Paris-Nice again because it worked in 2009 and wanted to stick to it. It just felt right and wasn't too hard, compared to previous years. I didn’t go too deep so that I can be fresh for here."
Tyler Farrar is obviously Garmin-Cervélo's sprint option. If the race comes back together on the run into San Remo, then he may be given the lead out if he is feeling good.
"For me it's good if its 50 or 60 guys," he said when asked his preferred scenario.
"But that the beauty of this team, we've got guys who can go with five guys and if it's 50 guys, then I should be there too. For me it's good if it's a big group but for the team it's not bad if it's a small group too."
Hushovd hinted he could go with an attack from some one like Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) on the Poggio.
"I'm going to race hard in the finale, see if something happens and try and follow. I think it's possible (a move stays away on the Poggio), it just has to be the right group of riders who have to ride together," he said.
"But I don’t honestly know what the best scenario is for me. We'll see tomorrow."