With the historic Grand Partenza of this year's Giro d'Italia in Belfast, Northern Ireland, its no surprise that Tinkoff-Saxo are backing its Irishman, Nico Roche for a top five GC placing at the first grand tour of 2014. Roche will lead the team along with Rafal Majka who impressed at last year's Giro finishing seventh overall.
"Our main goal is to make a GC result with either Rafa or Nico," said Tinkoff-Saxo DS Lars Michaelsen. "Our secondary goal is to win a stage in case an opportunity occurs. All way through the race, we will focus on supporting our leaders in order to make a top-five GC result."
The team contains two Australians — Jay McCarthy and Michael Rogers — and Michaelsen is backing the latter to help propel Roche and Majka onto the podium.
"With Michael back in the group, we have a strong and experienced road captain, which is crucial during both the first chaotic stages as well as in the long run to keep focused. Going into the 3rd week of the race, we will face five very important mountain stages, where the GC will be battled out and we'll see who has more fuel left in the tank."
For Roche, whose father Stephen won the Giro in 1987, performing well at the 'Irish Giro' is a season objective as he looks to build on his seventh place at last year's Vuelta a Espana. Although this will be just his second Giro, Roche is well acquainted with three week races having ridden 10 grand tours.
"I have been through a very hard altitude training camp with the team for the Giro and we just finished Tour de Romandie to brush off our shape, "said Roche. "I feel ready and naturally, I'm extremely motivated to do the Giro on home soil. The home ground launch is the bonus to me.
"I can't wait to get a feel of the buzz that the Giro has created in Ireland over the last few months. It's a huge deal for the Irish fans, Irish cycling and it’s a huge deal for me."
Also on the team is Christopher Juul-Jensen who spent the first 16 years of his life in Ireland but having since lived in Denmark, races under a Danish licence, although retains an Irish accent.
Tinkoff-Saxo for the 97th Giro d'Italia: Rafal Majka, Nicolas Roche, Michael Rogers, Chris Anker Sørensen, Pawel Poljanski, Evgeny Petrov, Ivan Rovny, Jay McCarthy and Christopher Juul-Jensen.
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