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Gallery: Team Type 1-Sanofi looking to step up in 2012

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All smiles on the warm Tucson day.

All smiles on the warm Tucson day.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Team Type 1-Sanofi riders ready to head out in the morning.

Team Type 1-Sanofi riders ready to head out in the morning.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Always a challenge to see who was going to take the lead with these guys.

Always a challenge to see who was going to take the lead with these guys.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Team camaraderie played a big part in coming together for the Tucson camp.

Team camaraderie played a big part in coming together for the Tucson camp.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Kiel Reijnen heads into 2012 with good morale after he finished up his 2011 season with a win at the Tour of Rwanda.

Kiel Reijnen heads into 2012 with good morale after he finished up his 2011 season with a win at the Tour of Rwanda.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Julien El Fares joins Team Type 1-Sanofi from Cofidis.

Julien El Fares joins Team Type 1-Sanofi from Cofidis.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Aldo Ino Ilesic is back with the team for a fourth season.

Aldo Ino Ilesic is back with the team for a fourth season.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Daniele Colli comes over to the bolstered team from the now defunct Geox-TMC squad.

Daniele Colli comes over to the bolstered team from the now defunct Geox-TMC squad.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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A French film crew came to Tucson to put together a story on the team.

A French film crew came to Tucson to put together a story on the team.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Team director Vassili Davidenko all set for another big season.

Team director Vassili Davidenko all set for another big season.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Team Type 1-Sanofi riders leave the resort for the day to get some miles in.

Team Type 1-Sanofi riders leave the resort for the day to get some miles in.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Team members grab snacks in the morning for the training ride.

Team members grab snacks in the morning for the training ride.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Team director Vassili Davidenko still finds time to get out and ride with his guys.

Team director Vassili Davidenko still finds time to get out and ride with his guys.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Groups of Team Type 1-Sanofi riders broke out for the day in the sunny Tucson weather.

Groups of Team Type 1-Sanofi riders broke out for the day in the sunny Tucson weather.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Team Type 1-Saofi riders tackle a small climb as they head through a rolling Tucson neighborhood.

Team Type 1-Saofi riders tackle a small climb as they head through a rolling Tucson neighborhood.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Teams of riders got together to build bikes and draw posters for kids of the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson.

Teams of riders got together to build bikes and draw posters for kids of the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Team Type 1-Sanofi riders line up with the bikes they built for the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson.

Team Type 1-Sanofi riders line up with the bikes they built for the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Once the giveaway bikes were built the pros had a chance to test them out.

Once the giveaway bikes were built the pros had a chance to test them out.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Team Type 1-Sanofi will be back on Colnago bikes again for the coming season.

Team Type 1-Sanofi will be back on Colnago bikes again for the coming season.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Team directors Jack Seehafer, Vassili Davidenko, Massimo Podenzana and Frederic Moncassin along with PR whiz Chris Baldwin all set to go with season ahead.

Team directors Jack Seehafer, Vassili Davidenko, Massimo Podenzana and Frederic Moncassin along with PR whiz Chris Baldwin all set to go with season ahead.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)

Even though weather was inconveniently soggy over some of Team Type 1 – Sanofi’s 10-day Tucson-based training camp, the mood was still all business as the team prepared for its upcoming 2012 season.

Revamping its overall team structure, the American Professional Continental squad has upped its rider and staff numbers to take on a triple program – two in Europe and one in the US – to give more flexibility to the riders and ensure a presence throughout the racing season.

Team Type 1-Sanofi General Manager Vassili Davidenko said gaining entry into bigger European tours one of this year’s major objectives. To accomplish that though, it’s crucial the team hits the ground running during the early season races.

"Paris-Nice is where we can show the potential of the team," he told Cyclingnews. "And I think the team is ready for that next step."

Tour of Turkey overall winner Aleksandr Efimkin, who moved from the ProTour AG2R-La Mondiale team to Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis at the end of 2010, is a rider of note to Davidenko, who said he also has high hopes for Tour of Denmark stage two winner Remy Cusin and Julien El Fares, both transfers from Cofidis and both fierce, experienced stage racers.

"We also have Daniele Colli who was, at the beginning of 2011, suffering from cancer of the leg," Davidenko said. "He’s back, and been on the podium for almost every race he’s participated in, so he’s another rider that we expect to be on top and to win races."

The team has also developed a deep pool of sprinter talent in Aldo Ilesic, Jure Kocjan and Filippo Fortin, who finished sixth at the Espoir Worlds last season.

Team Type 1 hired former Tour De France stage winner and legendary French sprinter Frederic Moncassin as one of three directeur sportifs this year. Massimo Podenzana is staying on with the team and Jack Seehafer, who was directeur sportif of the highly successful Colavita/Sutter Home professional women's team in 2008, rounds out the talented triple threat.

Just last month, Seehafer led a young Team Type 1 squad to five stage wins and first and second overall at the Tour of Rwanda, showcasing his stellar ability to lead.

"He’ll be spending more time with the team," CEO and Team Founder Phil Southerland said. "We are really proud of his growth and organization; so I think he will be a big add for us."

Southerland said that from a management perspective, the team is now self-assured after a productive year learning the ropes in Europe. Their successful season and growing reputation made for an easy recruitment process heading into 2012.

"We kept the good guys, we retained our talent and everyone came in motivated." Southerland said. "I remember the presentation from last year to this year and the guys showed up, but it wasn’t in full seriousness. This year, everyone showed up in really good shape. They know that the start of the year is very important for us, for the invitations later in the year and we have high expectations."

Last season, finding the right balance is something Southerland said management had to learn, as their demanding 10-month season, including travel to 15 countries, began to take a toll on his riders.

"We raced our guys a little bit too hard last year and everyone was falling apart by June. We had a really good April and May, and then June, during the Tour de Suisse, our team was really tired," he said. "When a rider says he’s tired we have to find a way to give him a break."

At the end of the day, there really is only one spot left for the Tour, Southerland said. There are three Pro Continental French teams, which means that Team Type 1 needs to be the "best the rest."

"The Tour de France and the Giro D’Italia know about us, they love our story and they know we would be a great platform to increase the visibility of cycling to a whole new audience, however you don’t increase visibility if you are hanging out at the back of races."

But this year, he’s confident Team Type 1-Sanofi has mixed the right amount of talent and experience to get there.