Recent Tour of Utah winner Rob Britton, who now calls Alberta home, is the obvious choice on paper to lead the team. The 31-year-old was flying in Utah and is coming off a brief rest following the Colorado Classic.
The US Continental team also features Evan Huffman, 27, who won a stage in Alberta last year and finished third overall. Huffman continued his momentum this season, winning the Tour of the Gila earlier this year and then adding two stage wins at the Tour of California.
Sepp Kuss, 22, led the Tour of Utah after finishing second on the stage to Snowbasin and should find the Marmot Basin stage – with its steep finish – well-suited to his skills.
Matteo Dal-Cin, the 26-year-old Canadian road champion, is coming off a training injury he suffered before the Tour of Utah and will be freshly motivated for a top result in the first race in which he'll wear the maple leaf jersey.
That's a lot of options for a single team in a four-day race, but both Huffman and Dal-Cin indicated that team leadership would likely sort itself out on the road to Marmot Basin during stage 1.
"We have a super-deep team here, with a lot of guys who are going good and a lot of options for the GC," Dal-Cin said. "We're going to try and see how that shakes out that first day up to Marmot Basin and see where it goes from there."
Huffman said Rally has yet to decide on a strategy for the opening day, but the depth of the roster should put them in good stead when it comes to the finish at the picturesque ski area.
"I'm not sure what our strategy will be exactly yet, but I think we'll have kind of our four or five better climbers try to just relax and wait for the end," he said. "We have a few guys to ride if we need to, to cover breakaways. Then I guess people just have to be honest with themselves and each other about how they're feeling and how their form is. Whoever is riding better will hopefully be able to win the stage."
Both Huffman and Dal-Cin are familiar with the climb, having competed in the same stage in 2015 when Cannondale-Drapac's Tom-Jelte Slagter – who has returned to the race this year – won ahead of Bauke Mollema and Adam Yates. Huffman was fifth on the stage that year, while Dal-Cin was 40th.
Huffman, who was riding for SmartStop in 2015, has good memories of the stage and the final climb.
"I remember it being very long but not super steep," he said. "There are a lot of sections where you can recover on the wheels, so it's a good one for me. It doesn't necessarily suit the really tiny pure climbers, but then it does kick up pretty steep at the end.
"So it depends a little bit on how it's raced, whether it's aggressive or someone is controlling," Huffman said. "I'm not sure what our strategy will be, but it's definitely a hard climb."
Dal-Cin said the Rally teammates will need to communicate well during the stage so that they know how, and with whom, to attack the finale.
"You just kind of call an audible on the road, and if someone is on a bad day, they just need to vocalize that to their teammates and maybe contribute in another way earlier in the stage," Dal-Cin said. "I think we have a deep enough team to put two or three guys in that front group, and we'll have a few cards to play on Marmot Basin."
Dal-Cin could also get a boost from his new champion's jersey, which he hasn't been able to wear in competition since winning the title in June.
"I injured myself in training just before the Tour of Utah," Dal-Cin said. "So I don't know yet what it's like to race in it, but I'm looking forward to seeing what that feels like a representing my country in the maple leaf jersey."
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.