Axeon Hagens Berman announce team for Tour of California

U23 American Continental team Axeon Hagens Berman have announced its eight-rider team for the 2016 Tour of California with representation from four different nations.

Current US Pro Road Tour leader Neilson Powless is one of three debutants in the race for Axeon Hagens Berman, who line up at the 2.HC race for the fifth straight year, and general manager Axel Merckx explaining he is expecting a strong showing from his young squad.

"We always hope to be aggressive in the breakaways and score a couple top 10 finishes if possible," he said. "We are really excited that we are able to come to California with some great results already under our belt. But we are respectful and eager to learn and also to show one or two things that we have that can maybe influence the race a little bit.

"Most important for us in California is to be present, to be part of the race, and to be active - not just following.

Having placed top-ten in the young rider classification last year, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ruben Guerreiro return in 2016 and will be looking to make their mark on the race with both riders enjoying wins in Europe earlier this season.

"I am really excited to come back to the Amgen Tour of California. Last year, I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot. This year, I will fight for one good result in a stage and a good place on the general classification while helping the team," said Guerreiro who won G.P. Palio del Recioto in the spring.

Geoghegan Hart, who recently won the young rider jersey at the Tour of the Gila, is looking forward to the race as he explained.

"California is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the year for the team. It is a race I am very excited to return to for a third time. It consistently has amazing crowds, scenery and routes throughout the state."

Also returning to the race in 2016 is Greg Daniel, who was the most aggressive rider on stage 4 of last year's race who is aiming for another podium across the week.

"Over the past two editions of this race, I have had fairly good luck in the breakaways but have yet to get that elusive win. This year, I would love to showcase my aggressive style yet again, but go one place higher than I did two years ago and get that stage win," said Daniel.

U23 23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Logan Owen is another rider capable of making his mark on the race but will be working primarily as a domestique as he explained.

"Last year was my first year racing the Amgen Tour of California and it was an amazing experience racing with the best of the best. This year I am hoping to do well on a few stages while also helping our GC (general classification) guys as much as possible on the harder, hillier days," said Owen.

The 2016 Tour of California starts May 15 with a 170.5km stage in San Diego, wrapping up May 22 in Sacramento.

Axeon Hagens Berman for Tour of California: Tao Geoghegan Hart, Ruben Guerreiro, Logan Owen, Neilson Powless, Greg Daniel, Geoffrey Curran, Will Barta and Krists Neilands. 

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