Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Drapac) will start the Tour of Alberta today with a confidence boost, having won on the same route in 2015 when he finished third overall behind Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Adam Yates (Orica-Scott).
Despite the Cannondale-Drapac riders being recently told the team may shut down after this season because of a sponsorship shortfall, Slagter, who has a contract through 2019, said the attitude among the riders is still good.
"I think the effect on us on the road will be zero," he said. "I think we are motivated every race and everybody works really hard to be on his best. That's not changed, and I think the morale on the team even went up because of this because everybody wants to show what we can do and ride as a team.
"Hopefully we'll have a good future with the team and being a professional WorldTour team."
This year, Slagter's Cannondale-Drapac team is the only WorldTour squad in the Tour of Alberta, so his competition will come from a slew of North American Continental teams and from UnitedHealthcare, the only Pro Continental team in Alberta this year.
"There are only good memories from two years ago with two stages wins and a great time," the 28-year-old said. "I'm happy to be back racing here, and we'll see directly how the form is because it's really important to be ready that day. I hope to do well myself, and we have a few other guys who are going well, so we will see."
Slagter has two more wins since doubling up at Alberta in 2015. He took out a stage of the Tour du Haut Var in 2016 and he won stage 2 of the Tour of Austria in July. Most recently he abandoned the BinckBank Tour on stage 6 and finished 101st at Cyclassics Hamburg.
His 2015 experience on Friday's final climb will surely help his efforts, but he'll be riding against several others who finished well there in 2015. Rally Cycling's Evan Huffman was fifth on the stage in 2015, while Holowsko's Andzs Flaksis was 19th and Cannondale's Nathan Brown 20th, 1:09 down.
"I know more or less how the climb is and how we raced up to it," Slagter said of the 14km ascent to Marmot Basin Ski Resort. "It's hard and the wind can play a role as well. It can have a big influence."
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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.
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