Van Garderen will begin season in Oman
BMC Racing today released the team's roster for the Tour of Oman, and as expected Tejay van Garderen will open his 2015 campaign at the 2.HC race that starts February 17 and concludes five days later on February 22.
Van Garderen will be joined at the race by Damiano Caruso, Alessandro De Marchi, Ben Hermans, Michael Schär, Dylan Teuns, Greg Van Avermaet and Peter Velits. Valerio Piva will direct the team at the Middle Eastern race.
Van Garderen, who also started his 2014 season in Oman, is once again targeting the Tour de France as BMC's team leader for the July race.
This year marks the sixth edition of the race in Oman, with the finish on Green Mountain returning for a fifth time. The climb in the Oman desert is only 5.7km long but comes after a fierce fight for position and a steep ramp at the start of the climb. It is a stiff early season test of form and allows the Grand Tour contenders to show they have been working hard during the winter.
Last year Chris Froome (Team Sky) won the stage to set up overall victory ahead of van Garderen and Rigobero Uran (Etixx-QickStep). Froome has opted for a different start to the 2015 season but will clash with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) at the Ruta del Sol (February 18-22).
MTN-Qhubeka riders sweep African Continental championships road race
MTN-Qhubeka's Louis Meintjes soloed to the win Saturday at the African Continental championships as his team completed a sweep of the podium. Meintjes was followed across the line by South African teammates Jay Thomson and Jacques Janse van Rensburg. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, also of MTN-Qhubeka was fourth.
"I’m really happy with this title," Meintjes said. "As a team we did an awesome job today. We trusted in our strengths and rode a very controlled race to finally manage a full podium."
Meintjes attacked from a 12-rider lead group on one of the final climbs of the day and quickly built up a lead of more than a minute. Behind him his teammates controlled the race, allowing the 2014 South African champion to grow his gap up to two minutes and to take the win solo.
Thomson and Jacques Janse van Rensburg escaped the group next, while Reinardt Janse van Rensburg won the spring for fourth.
"The whole South African team was pretty amazing today," Thomson said. "Taking the first four spots just shows that. We really rode like a team today, which is normally rather rare when riders compete in their national team colours."
Sagan, Majka to lead Tinkoff-Saxo in Oman
Majka will lead the team’s efforts in the general classification, while Sagan will aim for stage wins following his season debut at the Tour of Qatar. Majka will be racing for the first time this season. The pair will be joined by Daniele Bennati, Matti Breschel, Roman Kreuziger, Edward Beltran, Ivan Rovny and Pawel Poljanski.
The race will also mark the Tinkoff-Saxo debut of director Sean Yates, who said he is excited for the new opportunity.
“I’ve been away from WorldTour cycling for a couple of years, so it’s great to be back in the fold – especially on an ambitious team with some serious contenders,” Yates said. “I’ve seen how people work together in this team, and combined with the key players we have, also here in Oman, makes it exciting.”
Majka returns to racing after a winter season of multiple training camps. The 25-year old Polish rider said he is ready to take on the role as team captain.
“I think we have a very strong team for Oman and it’s a privilege to have this kind of support from big riders like Bennati, Kreuziger and Breschel,” Majka said. “My goal is right on top of Green Mountain. Of course, it’s my first race of the season, so it’s impossible to know exactly where I am but I have a good feeling.”
Sagan won the white jersey of the best young rider in Qatar and is likely hoping to improve on his two second-place finishes there.
“I’m ready for Oman,” Sagan said. “I had a good build up in Qatar and now it’s important for me to recover from my efforts, as it was really windy with some tough stages. It will for sure become a very exciting race with some interesting stage profiles.”