Peter Sagan will target the yellow jersey at the Tour de Suisse this week when he returns to action following his surprise win last month at the Tour of California. The nine-day WorldTour race begins Saturday with a 5.1km prologue time trial in Risch-Rotkreuz.
Climber Rafal Majka will join Sagan on the Tinkoff-Saxo Tour de Suisse roster, along with Matti Breschel, Daniele Bennati, Michael Mørkøv, Nikolay Trusov, Pavel Brutt and Michael Valgren.
Sagan, who took an extended break in the US following the California race, will try to repeat his result from the 2012 Tour de Suisse, when he won the prologue time trial and wore yellow for stage 1.
That will be welcome news for Sagan as he heads into a race that has traditionally served as a tune-up for the Tour de France. Before Sagan's run of two stage wins and the overall in California, team owner Oleg Tinkov stated publicly that the Slovakian would be working for Alberto Contador in July rather than chasing stage wins or his fourth green jersey.
"It's a race that suits him well with several lumpy stage finishes, and we know that Peter is very good at sprinting uphill. Looking at the profile of the prologue, it suits Peter as well, so he could win there and take the yellow jersey, where we would then defend it to a certain extent."
Sagan has won several prologue time trials in his career, including the 7.3km opener at the 2012 Tour de Suisse, where he beat Fabian Cancellara by four seconds. Sagan also won the shortened 10.5km individual time trial in California in May on his way to taking the final general classification of that race.
"With a rider like Peter on your team you got to support him for the stage wins," Yates said. "We have a combination of guys who can support him on the road throughout the stages and guys who have the top speed to lead him into a good position before the final sprint, such as Daniele Bennati, Matti Breschel and Michael Mørkøv. They will of course maximize Peter's chances, which is important as we want him to build confidence for the Tour."
Sagan will not be the only weapon in the team arsenal, however. Climbing specialist Majka will get his chance in the GC as he continues to build his form ahead of the Tour de France.
"From what we know, Rafal is going well, which could be promising for stage 5, which is bloody hard and will be a daunting challenge for everyone," Yates said "But the most important factor is that he builds shape ahead of the Tour, where he will be a very valuable support to Alberto in the high mountains.
"Rafal wants to try hard and he will try hard to build form, so there’s no pressure on him, but if he has the day, then he can be up there or thereabout. And then we'll see how he's positioned in the GC before the final decisive TT."