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Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas).
Quinziato, Bennati and Oss the protected riders for the Italian team
Manuel Quinziato believes the Liquigas-Doimo team head into Sunday's Tour of Flanders with one of the strongest line-ups in the race despite not having a clear team leader. The Italian squad’s line-up for the Classics includes Daniele Bennati, Aleksandr Kuschynski, Daniel Oss and Quinziato and the Italian believes that their strength in depth gives them more than one card to play.
Liquigas is one of the most successful teams this year, with 15 victories to date. At San Remo they were in the thick of the action but then Bennati failed to finish off the job in the final sprint. At last week’s Gent-Wevelgem, Liquigas forged the first main split in the race on the Kemmelberg, with several of their riders making the lead group. However their hard work wasn’t enough to secure a podium place, with Oss finishing highest in fifth place.
The core of Liquigas’s team took part in the Three Days of De Panne where they used the tough Belgian conditions to hone their fitness before this Sunday’s race.
“We don’t have the single individual who is really strong but we have a very strong team and we will try and play our cards as best we can,” Quinziato told Cyclingnews. “We’ll be aggressive. We have nothing to lose and we have the strength to break the race apart."
Quinziato pinpointed himself, Oss and Bennati as the team’s protected riders but that they would work together and talk during the race in order to capitalise on whoever had the best legs.
“I’m improving my condition,” said the Italian, who finished tenth overall in De Panne. “I wish it'd been a bit better during the first stage but I've since felt better. For Sunday I’ll be ready hopefully with the same shape and form as last year."
Oss did not start the final time trial at De Panne. He has already raced thirty days this year, half as much as he raced in the whole of 2009. “He just wants to recover,” Quinziato. He’s raced a lot this year and he’s in very good shape but he wanted to have one more rest day.”
Oss gets his chance
With a string of impressive performances, second-year pro Oss has come into his during the spring and is one of the revelations of the early season. He got a valuable taste of Flanders when he rode the classics for the first time last season.
“Riding in 2009 helped me realise how you have to get a result. The finale of the race will be the key moment because you don’t have much strength left by the time you get to the Grammont and Bosberg. If we manage to look after and help each other, I'm confident I can get a result."
The Italian has ridden the new Tour of Flanders route in training and believes that the race will be tougher than before. "There are more sections of flat cobbles before the Quarement than in 2009 and that will create more tension in the bunch right from the start," he predicted.
"Between the 180km mark and the Molenberg after 217km there's not a second to take a breather. That's when Flanders shows what it's all about."