Garmin-Cervelo sport director Matthew White has warned that none of the team’s riders will be assured Spring Classic starts, such is the depth of the team’s roster for 2011. The Jonathan Vaughters-run team has bolstered its classics squad with the best riders from the now defunct Cervelo TestTeam, including new world champion Thor Hushovd and Australia’s Heinrich Haussler.
“I think our team for the classics is the biggest change,” White told Cyclingnews. “Basically a classics team has been infused into our team, which already had quite a handy classics team, so one thing I’m not going to be complaining about is depth come next April.
“Before we really have struggled to put eight guys together who are ready to race Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, but we’re not going to have any problem next year,” he added. “There’ll actually be guys missing out – there’ll be two or three world-class riders missing out.”
White admitted he’s relishing the opportunity to lead a stronger classics line-up in 2011. He also expects the riders to embrace the challenge of making the cut for Garmin-Cervelo’s squad.
“It’s a good amount of pressure to have and it will keep everyone on their toes in the lead-up races, nobody gets a walk-up start,” he said. “It’s a challenge. You’re in the wrong game if you don’t enjoy it.
“I’m really looking forward to putting those guys together in the sprints too, you know,” added White. “With Hushovd, Haussler, Tyler Farrar and Julian Dean – it’s got a lot of potential.”
White doesn’t expect the increased presence of sprinters at Garmin-Cervelo to have a negative impact on the team’s general classification hopes – namely Christian Vande Velde and Ryder Hesjedal. Without a pre-race favourite like Denis Menchov or Andy Schleck on the team, Garmin-Cervelo won’t be expected to control the race as much as the new Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project squad of Schleck will, according to White.
“I think I’ll go there with a two pronged attack – but I think you can do it if you’re not the favourite,” he said. “You can’t do it if you’ve got Andy Schleck – if you’re the favourite to win the Tour then you’ve got to ignore the sprints, but for a team like us there’s not going to be much direct pressure to control mountain stages.
“We’ve got the two guys in Vande Velde and Hesjedal who have both proven they can run top five, top 10, so we’ll go with those two and then basically everything else will be structured around the sprints,” he added. “I suppose the big goal for us – like many teams – is to win that team time trial, which will then put us in the yellow jersey.”
For the time being White is looking forward to heading to the Cayman Islands this month where the 2011 squad will meet for the first time.
“It’s a third of the team that’s new, as we’ve got nine or 10 new riders,” said White. “It’s not a training camp, it’s a get together. We will be riding bikes there but basically when you’ve got a third of a new team and the blokes don’t know each other it’s a good time – before the racing starts and before the real work starts – just to get to know each other a bit where it’s a more relaxed environment.”