Motivated and versatile Cannondale-Drapac on show at Tour of Guangxi

In July Cannondale-Drapac was celebrating a Tour de France podium with Rigoberto Uran. In August the team was facing extinction with a prospective sponsor pulling out of the deal. In September the team welcomed on board EF Education First as a new naming rights sponsor and future shareholder owner.

In late October, Cannondale-Drapac is in action at the Tour of Guangxi for its penultimate race of a long, successful but emotional season. A team will also compete in the Japan Cup this weekend, bringing the curtain down on the 2017 season.

Charly Wegelius is in charge for Cannondale-Drapac at the inaugural Chinese WorldTour race. He has intimate knowledge of professional cycling's highs and lows on the bike and in the team car.

"Of course it has been a year of ups and downs. It has been intense but every year in cycling, honestly, is in somewhat or another. We had some really nice results as well, which is really why you race," Wegelius told Cyclingnews on the morning of stage 1 of the Tour of Guangxi.

Winless in the 2016 WorldTour, Cannondale-Drapac has stages at the Tour of California, Giro d'Italia and Tour de France to celebrate in 2017. Although the Tour of Guangxi is making its debut at the upper echelon of the sport and lacks the pulling power of Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico, Wegelius is backing his riders for results across the six stages.

"This is a WorldTour race and that obviously brings with it a certain prestige," he said. "It brings a chance for riders who don't always get a chance to ride for themselves to get results in races. It is up to them to take those chances. It can also be a nice first building block towards the next season. If you race long into the season it makes for a much more simple winter."

A motivated squad

While some riders are running on fumes after months of racing and training, including some who also raced the Tour Down Under in January, Wegelius explained he has a motivated squad at his disposal this week. Including riders who are moving to other teams.

"Dylan van Baarle is leaving the team but he specifically asked if he could come and ride this race," he said of the Dutchman who only arrived the night before the race due to "visa problems".

And that job extends to respecting the WorldTour status of the race and recognising there are no gifts for the team who had one foot in the grave just two months ago.

"It is a WorldTour race and even though the location is a little bit unfamiliar the level is still going to be high," Wegelius predicted.

"There is no such thing as an easy race to win at this level. You might see some unusual names because it is quite late in the season, but I don't think it going to be easy to win any of the races here.”


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