There's always excitement at the prospect of another season commencing but for these talented young riders there's the added anticipation of beginning life in the professional ranks.
2011 team: HTC-Highroad
You may not know the name, but John Degenkolb could well turn out to be HTC-Highroad's best acquisition for a couple of seasons.
The 21-year-old won 10 times in 2010, most notably in two stages of the Tour de l'Avenir and the general classification at the Thüringen Rundfahrt. He then rounded off his season with a silver medal in the Under 23 world championship road race.
Those in the know use adjectives like "withering" to describe both Degenkolb's finishing kick and his ambition. "In some ways he's a bit like Edvald Boasson Hagen, although probably not as good in time trials," says HTC chief Rolf Aldag. "The thing about him, though, is that he absolutely knows what he wants to do.
"With most neo-pros, it's usually the managers who do most of the talking and ask most of the questions. With John it was almost the other way around: he was asking us lots of questions about, for instance, the bike, the make-up of the team in the Classics and so on. He has real leadership qualities.
"Talent-wise, he wants to focus on the Classics and short stage races. He's not a major tour rider. We told him that he'd have to earn his place if he wanted to ride Flanders and Roubaix in his first year, and he said that was fine; he expected to do exactly that."
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