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Ian Stannard gets a push after a wheel change
British road champion wants to shine in northern classics
Ian Stanndard is a formidable figure in the professional peloton. At 189cm and 83kg, the powerful rider has been one of the hardest working domestiques on the Sky Procycling team this season. He completed more than 90 days of racing with two Grand Tours and while he relished working for his teammates, he wants to be give his own opportunities in the coming season - with the cobbled Classics one of his biggest objectives.
Stannard begun his season early in the year at Tour of Qatar and notched his first top-10 of the year in stage 4. He then rode some of the opening semi-Classics where he assisted 2013 Vacansoleil-DCM signing Juan Antonio Flecha to third-place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and victory by Mark Cavendish at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, who will join Omega Pharma-QuickStep next year.
His spring Classics campaign was done at the service of others and after riding the Giro d’Italia he rode to a solo win at the British road national championships. It was his only win of the year but it was an important one and it signaled his ability to close the deal when given the chance. Stannard won a stage at Tour of Austria in 2011 and also finished 4th at Paris-Tours but the national championships is his biggest victory to date.
"It’s one of the most iconic jerseys out there with a very rich history, so it’s cool to be wearing it and I definitely want to do it justice," he said to Team Sky.
"G [Geraint Thomas] and Bradley [Wiggins] have both done some pretty amazing stuff in it over the last few years so hopefully I can follow suit next season," he said.
With Stanard entering his fourth year with the British-registered team, the rider who will turn 26 next year feels he’s reached a level necessary to be given a shot at leading at cobbled races including Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders. With such a strong team for the northern Classics however, Stanndard understands that assuming a captain role will be no easy task and that his team must learn from its past tactical errors.
"The Classics are always big races for me, and now that [Juan Antonio] Flecha is moving on to pastures new I’d like to step up and try to exceed the results he’s got for us over the last three seasons by winning one of these big one-day races," Stannard said.
"I’m sure guys like Eddy [Boasson Hagen] and G will have similar ambitions though and they’re both equally capable of doing it, as are guys like Mat Hayman and Bernie Eisel.
"Tactically, I think we need to be a bit smarter than we have been in the past. Teams have expected us to take these races on, and we have sometimes done that too early. We’ve learnt a lot from those experiences though and I’m sure we’ll be a more formidable force next time around," he said.