IAM Cycling have announced its team for next month's WorldTour season opener, the Tour Down Under, and the 1.HC Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race to be held one week later in Australia. The team its placing its faith in Italian sprinter Matteo Pelucchi for stage wins and Jarlinson Pantano for a top-five result on GC.
Australian representation in the six-rider squad comes from David Tanner and Leigh Howard who makes his debut for the team having moved across from Orica-GreenEdge.
"We have to be up to the level of the WorldTour," said sport manager Rik Verbrugghe. "In Australia, we will bring together a great team with more than one opportunity for success. We have strengthened the lead-out train in order to give Matteo Pelucchi the greatest chance for success. And Jarlinson Pantano has what it takes to finish in the top-5 overall."
Pelucchi has previously taken WorldTour wins at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Poland. The 26-year-old has also enjoyed several early-season wins in Spain in recent seasons to suggest he will be ready for his Australian racing debut in just over one month. Having come close to stage wins with Australian national champion Heinrich Haussler, who has decided to remain in Europe for the winter to prepare for the Classics, the team will be aiming to start its 2016 season with a bunch sprint stage win.
After placing ninnth overall in 2015, Colombian Pantano returns in 2016 with his ambitions raised to cracking the top five. The 27-year-old finished 19th overall at his debut Tour de France this year and will be looking to improve upon his best GC result in a WorldTour race with help coming from the likes of Tanner and Aleksejs Saramotins.
IAM Cycling will head to Geelong following the Tour Down Under for its second appearance at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on January 31 with the parcours suited to the characteristics of Pelucchi.
IAM Cycling for the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race: Marcel Aregger, Roger Kluge, Jarlinson Pantano, Matteo Pelucchi, Aleksejs Saramotins and David Tanner.