With Marcel Kittel chasing stage wins in Ireland and Italy at the 2014 Giro d'Italia, Giant-Shimano is backing fellow fast man John Degenkolb at the Tour of California. The team chosen for the week-long American race includes a mix of youth and experience with Lawson Craddock and Chad Haga hoping to shine during their 'home' race. Captaining the team will be the experienced Roy Curvers as the team is set up for both stage wins and a tilt at the GC.
After a good week racing in the Ardennes, 21-year-old neo-pro Daan Olivier also flies over for the race which starts with a 193km road stage around Sacramento on May 11 and is likely to end in a bunch sprint. The next day is an individual time trial with the first real test for the GC men coming on stage three to Mount Diablo.
"We head out to California with two objectives for the team — to win a stage with John and also see how the younger guys can do in the GC," said Team Giant-Shimano coach Aike Visbeek. "Lawson, Chad and Daan will have the chance here to see what they can do and we will decide after the time trial and mountain stage who is our GC leader.
"We want to not only focus on getting a result here, but also on the development of these young riders — both Chad and Lawson finished in the top 10 here last year but this year they are in a bigger team with more pressure and this is part of their development, dealing with this pressure," Visbeek said.
With a good showing during the Spring Classics which included victory at Gent-Wevelgem and a podium at Paris-Roubaix, Degenkolb was second at the GP Frankfurt on May 1 in a sign he is getting back to his best after a short rest.
"John is coming back from a break after his spring campaign and he showed in Frankfurt that he is already getting back up to speed so with the different opportunities ahead over the eight days we can hope to have a good race," Visbeek said.
Giant-Shimano for the 2014 Tour of California (2.HC): Lawson Craddock, Roy Curvers, Thomas Damuseau, John Degenkolb, Chad Haga, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Koen De Kort and Daan Olivier.