Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) will be working closely with former rider Michele Bartoli, as he looks to improve on his sixth place at last year's Giro d'Italia.
“From Bartoli's help and experience, I have already benefited in the last season,” Niemiec wrote on his blog. “I used his help over the past year, but not to the extent that I will be doing this season. Now we want even more targeted and work together. I hope it bears fruit.”
Bartoli won two stages of the Giro d'Italia during his 12-year career. The Italian, known as the Lion of Flanders, favoured the Classics and took victories in the Giro di Lombardia, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Flanders, to name but a few, and is considered one of the most successful Classics riders. After his retirement in 2004, he became a coach, and has been helping Niemiec with his training.
“I have a new plan starting this year, which I created during the December training camp, and there a few changes compared to last season,” wrote the Polish rider. “The annual endurance tests went off very well and can work with optimism. I have been resting only on Sundays, apart from Christmas day. And I've got no extra fat to worry about.”
Niemiec was one of two Polish riders in the top 10 at the Giro d'Italia. Rafal Majka finished one spot below him in the classification and, along with Michal Kwiatkowski, the trio helped to make 2013 a very successful one for Polish cycling. Niemiec rode as a domestique for Michele Scarponi, who finished fourth overall, during the Giro. With Scarponi's departure, Niemiec is likely to take up the role as the leader, although this could change if Chris Horner signs a contract with the team.
His early season has a distinct Italian feel to it, with starts at Tirreno-Adriatico, Strade Bianche and Roma Maxima. However he'll be making an appearance at La Doyenne for the first time, where he'll be playing the support role. “The last test before the Giro d'Italia will be my debut in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege. In our team we will have, amongst others, Rui Costa and Diego Ulissi, I'll be happy to support them in this important Classic.”
“For now, I am focusing on the period before the Giro. I’d like to ride on similar level as last year in the first part of the season. And if everything goes according to plan, perhaps achieve something in the second part, too.”
With the birth of his second child due just after the Giro, his calendar for the remainder of the season is not certain. He may start at the Critérium du Dauphiné, but the 33-year-old won't be returning to the Tour to support Costa, favouring the Vuelta a España in August.