Sagan leads Tinkoff-Saxo at Strade Bianche

Majka targeting Paris-Nice

Peter Sagan will be hoping to take his first victory of the 2015 season and his first win for Tinkoff-Saxo at the Strade Bianche race in Tuscany on Saturday.

The Slovakian has racked up a series of placings in his early season racing in Qatar and Oman but is still in search of his first victory since signing for the squad.

Sagan finished second in both the 2013 and 2014 editions of Strade Bianche. Last year Michal Kwiatkowski dropped Sagan on the final climb into Siena after the two distanced the rest of the peloton after the testing sections of dirt roads, while he took second after helping teammate Moreno Moser to victory in 2013.

Sagan will have the support of local rider Daniele Bennati, Roman Kreuziger, Maciej Bodnar, Manuele Boaro, Christopher Juul-Jensen, his brother Juraj Sagan and Matteo Tosatto.

"The Strade Bianche is a race that appeals to me because it has a very picturesque, scenic route. It is also ideal for my characteristics and qualities as a rider. I hope to do well in my first European race of 2015," Sagan said in a statement from the Tinkoff-Saxo team announcing its line-up for the race.

Italian directeur sportif Bruno Cenghialta will direct the team at Strade Bianche.

"Strade Bianche is a race that suits Peter. It lacks long climbs and in fact they're quite similar to the ones in the Northern Classics. In addition, Peter's background in mountain bikes favours him on the 45km of dirt tracks," he said.

"Peter is definitely our leader at Strade Bianche. Most of our riders such as Bennati, Juul-Jensen and Kreuziger, who was fifth last year, have already participated in the Strade Bianche and are familiar with the route and the challenges."

Majka has leadership role for Paris-Nice

With Alberto Contador targeting Tirreno-Adriatico, Rafal Majka will lead Tinkoff-Saxo at Paris-Nice, which begins on Sunday with a prologue time trial south of the French capital.

The Polish rider finished fourth overall at the Tour of Oman after a strong ride on the stage to Green Mountain and will target overall success. He won two stages and the polka-dot jersey at last year’s Tour de France. He will be backed by new signing Robert Kiserlovski, Matti Breschel, Michael Mørkøv, Pawel Poljanski, Chris Anker Sørensen, Sergio Paulinho and Danish champion Michael Valgren at Paris-Nice.

Majka will clash with Fabio Aru (Astana), Rohan Dennis (BMC), Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep), Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) and Richie Porte (Team Sky).

"I've recovered well from Oman and I feel that my condition is improving, which is good since I'm here to fight for the GC," Majka said.

"We're aiming to do a good result for the team. For sure, the mountain stages suit me the most and it’s where I can make a difference, if I have good legs. But the final mountain TT up Col d'Eze will be where the GC is eventually decided.

"We need to prepare mentally and be ready for some days of fighting. With wind, rain and sometimes snow in Northern France during the first stages, it's so important to stay at the front as the weather creates a nervous race."

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