Rui Costa set for Tour de Suisse title defence

World champion Rui Costa is yet to win a race in the rainbow jersey but will enter the Tour de Suisse as the two-time defending champion and confident of claiming a maiden win for Lampre-Merida. Costa will tune up for the nine-stage race at the UCI 1.HC GP du Canton d'Argovie on June 12 with the same team he will line up with two days late at the Tour de Suisse.

"It's such a honour for me to be the captain of a WorldTour team, but I'm also aware that it requires taking on responsibilities," Costa said. "During the season, I got good feedback concerning this role, I wish I could go on in this way in Tour de Suisse too, since this race always gave me huge satisfactions, while the GP du Canton d'Argovie will be a perfect event to approach the WorldTour race.

"A very competitive team selection will support me, so I'll check which targets I am aiming for."

Costa's season goal is to better his best ever placing at the Tour de France, 18th in 2012, and the Tour de Suisse will again be a key preparatory race for achieving that goal.

At the 2013 Tour de Suisse, Costa won stages seven and nine to secure the overall victory by 1:02 minutes over Bauke Mollema (Belkin). Costa then went on to win two stages at the Tour as he rode in support of Alejandro Valverde and then Niaro Quintana for Movistar.

As the protected Lampre GC rider for the race, Costa is also aware that as defending champion and world champion, he in under pressure to perform but said he will be buoyed by the support of fans along the route.

"I also know that Tour de Suisse is an important appointment on the road to Tour de France. In Switzerland there are many of my fans and many Portuguese; I'd like to encourage them to support Lampre-Merida and me with passion."

Lampre-Merida for Tour de Suisse: Rui Costa, Mattia Cattaneo, Sacha Modolo, Nelson Oliveira, Josè Serpa, Andrea Palini, Maximiliano Richeze and Rafael Valls.

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