Team Illuminate, formerly Airgas-Safeway, will start the 2016 season at the Tour de Taiwan beginning March 6 in Taipei.
The five-day UCI 2.1 race features five rad stages and finishes March 10 with a 147.5km route from Jianshanpi Resort to Wutai.
The team no longer has the services of 2013 Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Horner, who signed with Lupus Racing this year, but will instead feature former Team SmartStop rider Flavio de Luna in Taiwain, along with former team Colombia rider Edwin Avila. Australian Scott Sunderland will also be on hand to contest the sprint finishes with Avila. Other Illuminate riders on tap for Taiwan include Canadian Alexander Ray and US rider Griffin Easter.
De Luna was able to get some early race miles in his legs while riding at the Tour de San Luis with the Mexican national team.
"Im excited to race in Taiwan,” de Luna said. “I already got some race days at the Tour of San Luis and the training with my coach has been going well. I know this is a good opportunity for me, I especially like the last 2 stages."
Taiwain will be Avila’s first race with the US Continental team after spending three years on the Pro Continental level with Team Colombia.
"I look forward to the race very much, some good hills but also some chances for sprint finishes,” he said. “This will be a fun race."
Team general manager Chris Johnson said De Luna will likely carry he team’s general classification hopes into the race.
“He rode well at the Tour of San Luis in January and has been recording some very solid training in Mexico,” Johnson said.
“We're also bringing Edwin Avila and Scott Sunderland. Both of these riders will be very dangerous in the sprint finishes and are eager to start the season off with a strong result.”
Two more new recruits for the team, Australian brothers Miles and Callum Scotson will not be racing in Taiwan, taking part instead in the World Track Championships in London as they continue their preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Johnson said the season opener in Taiwan is a perfect match with the team’s mission to “illuminate the power” of the bicycle.
We're hoping to connect with a number of schools and engage with members of the community while on the trip,” he said. “Taiwan is a huge producer of bicycles and as a whole the country has done incredible things to integrate cycling into their transportation system. I believe this trip is going to be really educational for us and a great way to kick off the season.”
The team’s first scheduled events in the US will be Redlands Bicycle Classic and the Sea Otter Classic in April.