Several teams have announced their rosters for the first major Italian stage race of the year, Tirreno-Adriatico, which starts in Tivoli on Wednesday March 8 and finishes in San Benedetto del Tronto on Tuesday, March 14.
T-Mobile will be looking to its Classics specialists for success in Italy, and using the race as final preparation for the big Northern European one day races which start April 2 with the Tour of Flanders.
Steffen Wesemann will lead the T-Mobile Team and the team focus will be on stage wins. "We are bringing an aggressive and committed approach to this race," says T-Mobile directeur sportif Mario Kummer. "We are not candidates for the overall standings, in that regard we are outsiders." Supporting Wesemann will be Stephan Schreck and the two Flanders residents Andreas Klier and Sergey Ivanov.
Alongside those four, T-Mobile newcomer Lorenzo Bernucci is looking forward to a ride on home turf, while the Dutchman Bram Schmitz gets his season rolling after recovering from a broken foot. However, "We can't expect much from Bram. After his injury he is just here to get race miles into his legs", says Kummer.
The final two members of the team will be Andreas Klöden and André Greipel. Klöden is using Tirreno-Adriatico as part of his early-season build-up towards what T-Mobile calls "bigger prizes to come" while Greipel will be looking for sprint victories after his podium places at Vuelta ao Algarve and the Tour of California.
Quick Step-Innergetic isn't as talkative about the how and why of its team line-up for Tirreno-Adriatico, but has simply announced that its team will comprise Serge Baguet, Paolo Bettini, Davide Bramati, Steven De Jongh, Servais Knaven, Filippo Pozzato, Bram Tankink, Kevin Van Impe.
Bettini will no doubt be going for stage wins and that line-up is very much a group of seasoned campaigners, several of whom are also capable of taking a stage win if things go their way, and all of whome3 wil provide solid support for the Olympic champion.
Barloworld is looking to former world champion Igor Astarloa to continue the strong form he displayed when he won Milano-Torino at the weekend. Tirreno-Adriatico also provides Astarloa with a chance to fine-tune his form ahead of Milano-San Remo (March 18) where the team says he is "determined to be in the action".
In the sprint finishes, Barloworld is pinning its hopes on Enrico Degano, who so far this season has won two stages of the GP Costa Azul, where, the team points out, "he even beat Robbie McEwen of Australia" (McEwen nevertheless took the general classification). Barloworld will also field Pedro Arreitunandia, Gianpaolo Cheula, Mads Christensen, Alex Efimkin, Mauro Facci and Hugo Sabido.