Giant-Alpecin have announced its squads for the upcoming 2.HC Arctic Race of Norway and 2.1 Tour de l'Ain races which both start this week. While several of its riders were unavailable due to their appearance at the Olympic Games, the team is sending competitive squads to both races with John Degenkolb headlining the Norway race line up.
The August 11-14 Arctic Race of Norway starts with a 176km stage from Fauske to Rognan with stage 3's uphill finish to Korgfjellet set to decide the general classification. Coach Dirk Reuling explained that with no out-and-out GC riders in the rosters, the team will be targeting stage wins.
"The main goal is to go for stage results instead of having overall classification ambitions in Norway," said Reuling. "Stages two and four will be our best chances for a fast finish and with excellent lead-out capacities we will set up the sprint for John. On the hillier stages, we have Søren who could be able to compete on the more difficult sections and aim for a good stage result.
Reuling added that the team will also go into the race with the aim of providing 18-year-old German Max Kanter experience on his Giant-Alpecin debut.
"Finally, it will be the first race for our stagiaire Max [Kanter] and his aim here is to get used to our structure and way of working, and complete the race successfully," he explained.
In comparison, the Tour de l'Ain is a race better suited to the climbers although there is a first up opportunity for the sprinters with the stage 1 finish into Saint-Vulbas. The race also provides several opportunities for attacking racing and successful breakaway attempts.
Neo-pro Sam Oomen, and stagiaires Jochem Hoekstra and Martijn Tusveld will lead the line for the race with coach Arthur van Dongen placing faith in the young trio to make a mark on the race.
"We have chosen an opportunistic team as the stages offer several chances for us to challenge for results. We will race offensively with a special focus on the last two mountain stages. Indeed, with Sam, Jochem and Martijn we have some young and talented guys who will gain experience and can perform well in the mountains," van Dongen said.
Van Dongen added that for some of the riders selected for the race, it will be an important final tune-up for the third and final grand tour of the year, the Vuelta a Espana, which starts August 20. For lead out men Bert De Becker and Koen de Kort, the race is also an opportunity to pursue their personal ambitions in the sprint finishes.
"The Tour de l'Ain is always a tough race and presents a good test for our stagiaires. Finally, it is an important last step for the riders who are competing at the Vuelta to fine tune their form," he added.
Arctic Race of Norway squad: Søren Kragh Andersen (Den), Roy Curvers (Ned), John Degenkolb (Ger), Max Kanter (Ger), Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) and Max Walscheid (Ger).
Tour de l'Ain squad: Bert De Backer (Bel), Jochem Hoekstra (Ned), Koen De Kort (Ned), Sam Oomen (Ned), Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) and Martijn Tusveld (Ned).