HTC-Columbia might not have been as competitive on general classification at the Tour de France as hoped, but sport director Allan Peiper believes the Grand Tour has two of his riders in excellent form for this weekend’s Clásica San Sebastian in Spain. Peiper believes changes made to the race’s course will play into its hands, with the team aiming to get Michael Rogers or Kanstantsin Sivtsov into a winning position.
"They've completely restructured the last part of the course, with a double ascent of the Jaizkebel climb, and that makes it far more likely we see a move of a just a few riders at the head of the race staying away,” said Peiper. “For Michael Rogers and Kanstantsin Sivtsov, that's good, because they've come out of the Tour de France with that extra racing form you always get from racing a major stage race.”
Peiper likened the revamped finish to that of the Giro d’Italia’s stage eight in 2009, where Sivtsov claimed a 21 second victory after the 208 kilometre trip to Bergamo. Rogers also finished well on that stage at last year’s Giro, crossing the line in fourth behind Edvald Boasson Hagen and Danilo Di Luca.
“Kanstantsin is in particularly good shape,” he said. “He always keeps his cool in tricky finishes, too, and this very hilly new finale is a bit like the stage of the Tour of Italy he won a couple of years back.
“We know the Spanish will be very motivated - they always are for San Sebastian,” he added. “But we'll be trying as hard as we can to get in those late breaks so we've got a fighting chance."
Peiper expects the hot, humid conditions to play a factor in this year’s race, but the squad has plenty of firepower in its ranks. After playing a crucial role in Rogers’ Tour of California victory Tejay Van Garderen will join the squad for Saturday’s race while New Zealand’s Hayden Roulston will also return to racing after a period of rest and training at home.
"It was a very tough event anyway, with really high temperatures to deal with as well when the race headed for its first loop inland, and now they've made the route even tougher. Whoever wins it, it won't be by chance."
The squad will also field Gert Dockx, Matt Goss, Rasmus Guldhammer and Marco Pinotti.