The team of Argos-Shimano will hope to continue its recent run of form when the squad lines up at Tirreno - Adriatico today. Without a rider suited for the general classification, the team will be solely dedicated to the service of John Degenkolb who will hunt stages wins during the week-long Italian race.
Degenkolb heads to the start with two stage races and a one-day race already in his legs for 2013. The 24-year-old failed to pick up a win at the Tour of Qatar, Oman or Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but the five-time Vuelta a España stage winner arrives with a good training base ahead of what he hopes will be his first win of the year.
"In recent days I have trained at home for up to six hours on the bike so I've also brought back some self-confidence after I froze at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad almost at the end and was not able to sprint for 11th place," wrote Degenkolb on his personal site.
"In Tirreno, I focus first on my core competency [sprinting] and I want fast cycling. The stages are such that I already stand the odd chance. My form fits the mood, the team is good and we are all motivated," he added.
"We are aiming for a stage win with John Degenkolb. With the team built around the German sprinter, we have a great challenge this week. In addition to trying for a stage win, it will be interesting to see what Tom Dumoulin can do in the finishing time trial, as he has shown that he is in good form," said sports director Marc Reef.
The race also marks the return of Koen de Kort who suffered a broken collarbone at Tour of Qatar. De Kort crashed at high-speed during Stage 4 at Qatar and while he was able to finish the stage, failed to start the next day. He returned home to the Netherlands for successful surgery before resuming his training, albeit in a reduced capacity, just days later.