CCC Team's Will Barta says that he's excited to race on home roads at the upcoming Tour of California as part of a WorldTour team for the first time, and vows that he'll be doing what he can to ensure that he's part of the action on each of the US race's seven stages.
"As an American rider, it's always a highlight to race in front of a very supportive and excited crowd," said Barta as part of his team's announcement of its seven-rider line-up.
"It's my third Tour of California, but my first with a WorldTour team, so it makes me extremely proud to return to California and the US as a member of a team at the highest level," he said, having joined CCC this season from the Axel-Merckx-run Hagens Berman Axeon Pro Continental team.
"I think that I came out of the Tour de Romandie with good form," he continued, with Barta having taken eighth on the final time trial stage at the Swiss race, "and now I'd like to perform across the entire week in California. My objectives for the race are to consistently be in the mix each day and seize the opportunities that come every stage, whether it's personally or supporting a teammate.
“I think that while stages 2 [Rancho Cordova – South Lake Tahoe] and 3 [Stockton – Morgan Hill] will be challenging, the race will really be decided on stage 6, and so I'd really like to perform well on that day," he said of the race's penultimate stage, which finishes on the climb of Mount Baldy.
"Will is our American rider, so he'll be really motivated to go for a good result on home soil," added sports director Jackson Stewart, "and we have Simon Geschke returning from injury, so no doubt he's looking forward to getting back to the start line. He bounced back really well in Catalunya after his first crash, so I think he can still do well in California despite the bumpy start he has had this season."
Stewart also said that Riccardo Zoidl would do what he can when it comes to the GC, having ridden well to take 16th overall at Romandie, but that the main focus was on stage wins, with Szymon Sajnok in the role of protected rider for the sprints.
Geschke will be back at his first race since breaking his collarbone and four ribs in a crash on the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya in late March – which in turn had been the 33-year-old's first race back since breaking his elbow at the Vuelta Murcia in February.
"I'm still feeling the ribs that were broken a little bit, but it's not painful anymore, and it's normal only five weeks after the fractures," said Geschke. "Also, the muscles around the shoulder still need some time. So I'm not at 100 per cent, but training's been good and pain-free, and I'm ready to race again.
"It's my debut at the Tour of California, and I'm really excited to race in the United States. I like being here, but it's rare that we race here," continued the German. "I've only raced the USA Pro Challenge in 2013 and the World Championships in Richmond [in 2015] in the US so far in my career.
"I mainly want to get the race in the legs, and not make any plans. I'll take it day by day and see how I feel. I'm very motivated, though, and want to do the maximum I'm capable of," he said.
CCC Team for the 2019 Tour of California: Will Barta, Paweł Bernas, Simon Geschke, Szymon Sajnok, Michael Schär, Gijs Van Hoecke, Riccardo Zoidl
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