For Sylvain Chavanel the first big objective for 2014 will be to lead the IAM Cycling team at Paris-Nice which starts on Sunday with support of a strong team that includes climbers Stefan Denifl and Mathias Frank, classics specialist Jerome Pineau, sprinter Sebastien Hinault and key domestique Sébastien Reichenbach.
Reichenbach has enjoyed brief rest after racing last weekend as he prepares to help Chavanel's assault on the overall classification. "Last Sunday at the GP Lugano, we invested quite a lot of energy to go for the win. A crash at the bottom of the final climb succeeded in messing up our organization a little," Reichenbach said.
"But fatigue played a role at the end of the day. Nevertheless, I still have tried to find a good rhythm and feeling in my legs. On Wednesday I headed out for four hours with a variation in intensities."
The second year pro’s primary responsibility will be to support the team’s designated leader who should prosper from the parcours.
"There is no prologue, no time trial and no summit finish, consequently this is a Paris-Nice that is practically tailor-made for Sylvain Chavanel. In 2013, he won the stage that finished in a sprint on the Promenade des Anglais, took the green jersey for the points classification and finished 5th overall.
"This is will be his first big goal of the season. He has prepared well for this event and is getting stronger. But we must be always alert to the effects of the wind, and remember that we will have a wall to climb once we arrive in Fayence, which we already had a preview of at the Tour du Haut-Var. So there is no question that we will not be standing by idly during the week."
Reichenbach is enjoying learning from seasoned professionals such as Chavanel or as he sometimes known, Mimosa and Jérôme Pineau who both moved to the Swiss team at the end of 2013.
For the 24-year-old, there is still much to learn on the road and races such as Paris-Nice are important to the rider who is looking to add to his one professional win thus far, the 2013 Trofeo Matteotti.
"I am continually learning. It can only benefit everyone to have guys like that on the team. In particular I am learning how to position myself in the field as well as defend my space. It is not super easy to do, and you always have to concentrate.
"But in order to make any progress, I must be willing to make the sacrifices and put in the work. And with Paris-Nice, I have the ideal opportunity in a World Tour race. The level is higher, and the greater importance given to the event means that everyone is just that much more nervous. But I would perhaps like to have the chance to get away in a breakaway. One thing is certain and that is I have been feeling strong all season."
IAM Cycling team for Paris-Nice: Sylvain Chavanel, Stefan Denifl, Mathias Frank, Sébastien Hinault, Kevyn Ista, Jérôme Pineau, Sébastien Reichenbach and Aleksejs Saramotins.