La Route d’Occitanie is a chance for riders to get back into the racing rhythm against a strong field, Sports Director Marco Pinotti said.
“Of the four stages of La Route d’Occitanie, the first two are definitely not easy with rolling terrain that could present a good breakaway opportunity. Stage 3 is the day for the pure climbers and General Classification contenders with the uphill finish and although the last day is less mountainous, it has a tricky finish with some 9-10% gradients. Fausto Masnada will be our protected rider and we will see how he goes in his return to racing. Our other riders have the freedom to take their chance throughout the race, while supporting Masnada, so we are aiming to get a good result and, of course, get some racing back in the legs. The field is very strong so we are expecting a tough race,” Pinotti said.
Masnada is hoping to finish in the top ten in his debut appearance at the race.
“I have good feelings ahead of La Route d’Occitanie as I have trained very hard in the last weeks with a period at high altitude. I think there is a big question mark for everyone after four months with no racing but my training numbers are in line with the beginning of the season so I hope to start off on the right foot. It will be my first time racing at La Route d’Occitanie but looking at the stages, it’s clear the third stage is the hardest and the one that will determine the GC. I will try to help the team and play my hand in the mountain stage with the objective of finishing in the top ten,” Masnada said.
Staying on French soil, CCC Team will then line up at the three-stage race Tour de l’Ain where Jan Hirt and Serge Pauwels will make their return to racing.
“Tour de l’Ain is a race that will be used to prepare for the Tour de France and help the team to make the final roster selection. Jan Hirt will be our leader at the race but we are expecting all of our riders to go for breakaways and show their form after the extended break from racing. There is no hiding in those mountains and with the big GC day on the final stage with the Grand Colombier finish, it will be a hard few days of racing. Everyone is motivated and with riders like Serge Pauwels and Joey Rosskopf lining up alongside Jan, I think we have multiple cards to play when it comes to the different stages,” Sports Director Steve Bauer added.
Hirt is looking forward to seeing how his training block translates into racing when he lines up at Tour de l’Ain.
“I’m looking forward to racing again. It has been a long time since we were last at the start line so I’m motivated to get back there and am also curious to see how my shape is. I am feeling good in training so I would like to try and do a good result at Tour de l’Ain,” Hirt said.
La Route d’Occitanie – 1-4 August
Rider Roster: Josef Cerny (CZE), Fausto Masnada (ITA), Michał Paluta (POL), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL), Georg Zimmermann (GER).
Tour de l’Ain – 7-9 August
Rider Roster: Will Barta (USA), Josef Cerny (CZE), Jan Hirt (CZE), Serge Pauwels (BEL), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Georg Zimmermann (GER).
Sports Director: Steve Bauer (CAN), Marco Pinotti (ITA).