Cannondale Pro Cycling is kicking off its Australian campaign by attending the first of three events. The People's Choice Classic, a 50km fast-paced criterium, in Adelaide, will be the debut for the Cannondale Pro Cycling team in 2014 and be a sort of preview for the the Tour Down Under on January 21-26. Following the Tour Down Under, the team will head to the big island for the Herald Sun Tour on February 5-9.
The People's Choice Classic and Tour Down Under routes present many opportunities for sprinters to excel. This year, sprinter Elia Viviani will lead the team. The 24-year-old rider knows the terrain after previously racing in 2011.
While Down Under, Viviani will be supported by two long-distance-riders, Tasmanian Cameron Wurf and Austrian Matthias Krizek; while Canadian Guillaume Boivin will be the lead-out man during the sprints. In addition to long-distance support, Viviani will be backed by Kiwi climber George Bennett, who will lead the mountain stage - Willunga Hill. For new riders, Slovenian Matej Mohoric and Italian Alberto Bettiol, Australia will prove to be their "baptism by fire" in pro cycling.
"I had a different off-season compared to the last," said Viviani, "after the national and European track championships, I had a really short rest period. Thanks to the training I did during camp in Tuscany, I was able to keep my condition at a good level."
"My goal is to win in Australia. There are many chances for a win, and I'll be facing strong riders. A stage win is really important. The People's Choice Classic and the Tour Down Under are WorldTour events and leaving my mark on the first race of the season will be a huge boost of confidence."
Viviani's 2014 race schedule is different from years past. By March, he will have completed the track world championships, and Viviani plans to capitalize on wins during the Australian races.
"The People's Choice Classic and the Tour Down Under are fiercely competitive," said Directeur Sportif Biagio Conte, "Viviani is in prime shape for a stage win, and we want to keep him motivated and tell the world that he is one of the industry's best sprinters."
"We also want the young guns to show their talent," said Conte, "however, for some, it will be an exciting ride on their home turf (Wurf and Bennett). We know that it will be a challenging race, but we're eager to start the season off in the best way possible".