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GP Regio Insubrica top three: Jure Kocjan (Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis), Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli) and Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R La Mondiale)
Strong-man eyes first and final stage
Jure Kocjan (Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis) is looking to secure that elusive victory this season at this week's Amgen Tour of California. The Slovenian strong-man accomplished a series of podium finishes and top 10s overseas this spring and is hoping to kick it up a notch, eyeing a victory in stage one's kick-off around Lake Tahoe on Sunday and at the stage eight finale on May 22 in Thousand Oaks.
"The only thing I was missing this spring was a victory," Kocjan told Cyclingnews. "I hope to get one here but I don't know. Yesterday I looked at the stages and I will try to do my best to get a stage win in the first stage, maybe the fifth stage and the last stage. I think these are the ones that suit my ability and I will do my best. But, the first and the last stage are for sure."
Stage one is a course well-suited to Kocjan with a 191kms race in the Sierra Mountains around the Lake Tahoe. The race will start in the city of South Lake Tahoe, travel counter-clockwise around the scenic blue lake for one-and-a-half laps and finish in the city of North Lake Tahoe. Stage eight will begin in Santa Clarita and venture toward Thousand Oaks where they will complete five challenging finishing circuits for a total of 132.4kms.
Kocjan added a series of stellar results to his resume this year with podium performances at the Fleche d'Emeraude, GP Regio Insubrica along with top ten finishes at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Montepaschi Strade Bianche, GP di Lugano, Tour du Haut Var and GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise.
"The best day for me this year was at Strade Bianche because I had good results and if you look at the riders who were around me in the top ten, they were really good riders," Kocjan said. "But, my form wasn't so good in April because I was tired. I started training in January and so I wanted to do as many stage races as possible. It isn't easy to be good for four or five months. I rode the Tour of Turkey just for training to prepare for California. I will do my best here."
Team Type 1 has placed a primary focus on Aleskandr Efimkin to win the overall title at the Amgen Tour of California. The Russian-native recently won the Presidential Cyclist Tour of Turkey two weeks ago. The team will also rely on Aldo Ino Ilesic in the bunch sprints.
"I'm not a pure sprinter," Kocjan said. "I'm good when the pure sprinters drop off and I am still there at the end of the hard stages. If the race comes down to a bunch sprint we will probably sprint for Aldo, but the guys talk to each other in the last part of the stage to see who is feeling the best to make a good sprint."
Team Type 1 spent one week near Sacramento to recover from a lengthy spring block of racing overseas. The team is now stationed in South Lake Tahoe where they await the start of the Amgen Tour of California.
"We arrived last Sunday and we have been training to habituate a little bit and we needed time to recuperate," Kocjan said. "We arrived last night to Tahoe and we aren't going to do too much training because it is high altitude and we need to recover."