Sports Director Fabio Baldato said the team is motivated and confident ahead of the Italian racing block.
“Greg Van Avermaet is our undisputed leader for Strade Bianche, where he has previously finished in the top ten on seven occasions, two of which were on the podium. Strade Bianche is a tough race in the normal racing calendar but this year, I think we’re in for a big shock with the heat and after so many months without racing. It’s hard to predict what will happen when this will be the first race back for all of our riders, but we are going into the race confident. Greg and the Classics team have just completed a block at altitude and their shape is good. Ultimately, we are just happy to be back racing and thankful to be able to do so,” Baldato said.
“Later in the week we will line up at Milano – Torino which, unlike last year, has a flat parcours. For this reason, we are lining up with Jakub Mareczko as our leader for what we predict will be a sprint finish. For half of the team, this will be a good last test before Milano – San Remo.”
In between Strade Bianche and Milano – Torino in the calendar is the inaugural edition of Gran Trittico Lombardo where Van Avermaet will co-lead with Alessandro De Marchi, Sports Director Valerio Piva explained.
“We are looking forward to lining up at the inaugural edition of Gran Trittico Lombardo. It’s going to be a difficult race so early in this revised season but it will be a good test of the legs. The punchy second half of the race should be good for Greg and we also have Alessandro De Marchi there should it become more of a race for the pure climbers. I think it will be a beautiful race to watch and one we are looking to animate as much as possible.”
Van Avermaet is eager to get back to racing and is looking to repeat his previous success at Strade Bianche.
“Strade Bianche is one of my favorite races so it is special to have this as my first race back. I’ve normally always raced well there so I am hoping to do the same again. I was able to stay motivated throughout lockdown and now after our training camp in Livigno, I feel like my shape is where it needs to be. Of course, the circumstances will be a little different than normal and the heat will be a big factor so I hope I am ready for that. Then I am excited to race Gran Trittico Lombardo. It will be interesting to discover a new race and I think it will suit me well. I’ll enjoy every moment regardless because I can’t wait to race again,” Van Avermaet said.
For De Marchi, the revamped season starting with Strade Bianche is a chance to bounce back after missing half of the 2019 season.
“I had two really good weeks at altitude and now I feel focused and prepared for the races. This first week of racing has a special meaning for me because I didn’t really re-start the season at the beginning of the year after my injuries last year. So to start with Strade Bianche next Saturday is something really special and emotional for me. I’m really looking forward to this because I know I can train as much as I want, but nothing is like racing and I really miss this; the bunch, the atmosphere, everything. I’m motivated to show that I am back with the same shape and mentality of 2019 so it will be important for me to start well,” De Marchi added.
Strade Bianche – 01 August
Rider roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Simon Geschke (GER), Jonas Koch (GER), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL)
Gran Trittico Lombardo – 03 August
Rider roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Jonas Koch (GER), Pavel Kochetkov (RUS), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP)
Milano – Torino – 05 August
Rider roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Pavel Kochetkov (RUS), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP)
Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA)