HTC-Columbia sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg has named the 2010 women's Ronde van Vlaanderen and Ronde van Drenthe as the first major goals of a season that is likely to see her installed as a favourite for the World Road Championships.
Winner of the women's Ronde van Vlaanderen last year, Teutenberg told Cyclingnews that while she will return to her home in California until the end of March, she will return to Europe with success at the second and third rounds of the women's World Cup in the forefront of her mind.
"April is important for me, there are a lot of classic races. The Ronde Van Vlaanderen I want to do well in because I won there last year. The Dutch World Cup [Ronde van Drenthe] is a major aim too, because it's really suited to me. Those are the big goals for me and then towards the end of the year I want be in good form for the Worlds."
Despite two short climbs in the closing circuit for the 2010 Worlds course, early predictions have leaned towards riders with a fast finish. In a celebrated career, the rainbow jersey is one of very few major titles absent from Teutenberg's palmares.
"Everybody says it's really easy, I'm not sure I believe that. I haven't actually seen the course. We've ridden quite a bit in Geelong and I know people who live in that neighbourhood. I think the hills are actually quite hard, certainly not super-easy, so I think it's probably one of the goals," she said.
Although 2009 was for Teutenberg a personal success with almost 20 wins to her name, the season was also marked by Cervélo TestTeam's ascendancy to the top of women's cycling. While the departures of Kristin Armstrong (retirement) and Karin Thürig (transfer to Bigla) have seen a reshuffle at Cervélo, Teutenberg said the now Dutch-registered squad would remain a potent force.
"They have a strong team again. They lost a couple of veterans so I think they might be lacking a bit of a leader on the road, but they have so many talented riders that they can win every bike race they go to, that's for sure."
Another squad Teutenberg expects to mount a challenge this season will be Team Cycling Noris. After serious concerns over its sponsorship situation for the 2010 season, it was reported on Thursday that the former-Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung squad will remain in the peloton.
"They still have good riders and I think if these girls come to the races, they'll still be hungry," she said. "They will make a big step back in their salaries and they will do it to win races, rather than sit there and make money. For sure, they will be in the mix."
Teutenberg's season will get underway with a programme of races in California and while she has more work to do to prepare for the demands of European racing, she is confident that she will be ready in time for her first World Cup of the season.
"I will go back to California after this and like last year do the races there during March. They're better suited to me there, because the races in Europe are really hilly. The weather there is better, too, so I'll come back just before Flanders," she said.
"I've done my work in the winter. I probably had a longer off-season than last year and right now I'm not as fit as I was then, but I will start racing later, too. I still have eight weeks of training ahead of me, so I think I can reach the same level of fitness as I had last season by then."