Tinkoff have confirmed Italian Oscar Gatto as its trump card for the fourth edition of the Arctic Race of Norway in a balanced squad that will chase stage wins. Gatto heads to the race off the back of his first Tour de France and will be looking to add to his stage win success at the Ruta del Sol in February.
"Oscar Gatto will be our leader with the goal of a stage win," sport director Bruno Cenghialta said of the team's objectives for the 2.HC race.
Jay McCarthy provides a secondary option for success across the four-stages with Cenghialta expecting the 23-year-old to perform well.
"In my opinion, Oscar is right now the rider of the squad with the best form and legs that suit the very fast profile of the race. Jay McCarthy is also a fast rider, as are some others of our team, and as a result, our strategy will be to seek stage wins. We will use all our riders and adapt our strategy on a day-by-day basis to win at least a stage," added Cenghialta.
Russian duo Yuri Trofimov and Nikolay Trusov are also selected for the race along with Slovakian national champion Juraj Sagan and compatriot Michael Kolar. While the race covers challenging terrain in Norway, Cenghialta explained that as his riders are used to the higher mountains of mainland Europe they will need to adjust their racing style accordingly.
"Taking place in the vicinity of the Arctic Circle, the race is inherently difficult but its profile isn't a hard one. All our riders are used to tougher climbs and going from sea level to 550 meters with an average gradient of 4-5% is something they tackle nearly every day," added Cenghialta. "These climbs aren't the Col du Tourmalet and what can make the race difficult to manage will be its very fast pace. As a result, our strategy will be to use the breakaways when they take place or create them ourselves."
Of the four stages, Cenghialta explained that he is looking at all stages as possibles points of success but highlighted the stage 3 finish in Korgfjellet as key.
"In what regards the four stages, one could single out the third one as the queen stage, with a summit finish," Cenghialta said. "The GC could be decided there but the differences will always be very small, no more than a few seconds. We will try there to see whether Oscar and Jay have the legs to be with the leaders. As I said, in these climbs Oscar can also be competitive and we could eventually try to make a move for the GC, but our primary goal in the race will remain to win a stage."
Tinkoff for the 2016 Arctic Race of Norway: Oscar Gatto, Jay McCarthy, Michael Kolar, Juraj Sagan, Yuri Trofimov, Nikolay Trusov.