Thor Hushovd (Team BMC Racing) will make his long-awaited comeback to racing at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. The seven-day stage race offers the European based teams an escape to warmer climates as well as a chance to test their early season form with a number of difficult stages.
Hushovd has not raced since July and abandoned the Giro d'Italia in May 2012. He hasn't picked up a win since the Tour of Britain in 2011. A viral infection was blamed for his lack of form and fitness last season but according to his team he has now turned the corner and will use the Argentine stage as part of his Classics preparation.
"First I would like to get back to race speed since I haven't been racing for half a year," Hushovd said.
"Also, now I'm motivated and hungry to compete and having the start number on my back. So I would like to get a result if I have the form."
Hushovd isn't alone in using the race as part of his training, with teammate Tejay van Garderen entering the race with a similar outlook. The American finished fifth in last year's Tour de France and picked up the white jersey - the first American to do so since Andy Hampsten in 1986.
Despite the course suiting his characteristics as a rider, van Garderen refused to put any pressure on his shoulders, only admitting that the 19.2 kilometre time trial was a real objective, while the rest of the race would be used as solid training. However if the American has a strong ride in the time trial - as compatriot Levi Leipheimer did in 2012 - he could find himself in the mix for the win.
"I'll definitely go full gas in the time trial," he said, "but really this is more to get some racing kilometres in the legs. I'll just stay relaxed and safe and get some good training out of it."