By Kirsten Robbins in San Luis, Argentina
Team Saxo-Bank used the week prior to the Tour of San Luis acclimating their bodies to the mid-thirty degree before the seven-day stage race to begin on January 19. According to Director Sportif Torsten Schmidt, the pre-race training was successful in bringing the six men together in support of their Argentinean sprint Juan Jose 'JJ' Haedo, a rider expected to bring home an early season victory –or two.
"Hopefully JJ is the best sprinter here but you never know," Schmidt said regarding the participating South American teams who are in mid racing season. "It's the start of the season for us and there are some guys from other countries that have many races in their legs now. We're going to try our best for him to win stages here. He will have the full support from the team and we hope to celebrate a victory here."
Haedo is Saxo Bank's most obvious card to play in a final sprint however, the young Dane Matti Breschel has proven to be a dark horse winning the last year's Philadelphia's Commerce Bank Classic and placing third at the Varese world championships. Furthermore, the event has become a race of attrition compared to the previous year's sprint heavy finishes. The addition of two stages and three hill top finishes will no doubt cater to climbers like Jason McCartney from America and Lasse Bochman from Denmark.
"We'll see how the GC goes for us with the climbs and the time trial," Schmidt said. "We're more focused on stage victories, that is our goal for us. We have other guys here too but we will have to wait and see how they come into rhythm. Jason has been training very well and he is very motivated. It may be a problem to come from a cold climate like Chicago to here. You need a couple of days to acclimate. The race will show us how he will perform."
Team Saxo Bank has taken advantage of the fair weather training locations around the world by splitting the team into three parts and sending them to a Mallorca training camp, the Tour Down Under in Australia and the Tour of San Luis in Argentina.
"I have to say that I was here nine years ago to race in the Vuelta a Argentina," Schmidt said. "The roads here are very good and it's not a bad place to train. We are lucky to race in good weather and prepare for the other races." Upon the completion of the Tour de San Luis the team will reunite in California for a training camp in preparation for the Tour of California."