Gilbert, Hushovd, Phinney together for BMC Racing in Qatar
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Gilbert, Hushovd, Phinney together for BMC Racing in Qatar

by Kyle Moore at 4:15 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Marco Pinotti leads his new squad in Tour of Oman

BMC Racing TeamBMC Racing has announced its squads for the Tours of Qatar and Oman, and both will feature some of its highly touted new signings.

Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd will lead the American squad in Qatar, marking the season debut for each in their new team colours. The American Taylor Phinney will ride both races to begin his second professional season, and he will team with BMC debutant Marco Pinotti in Oman.

BMC Racing director John Lelangue believes that the Tour of Qatar is a good first test for his revamped Classics squad. “It gives us good velocity and you have to be focusing every day to be at the front because the wind is always a factor,” he remarked.

Phinney, who will likely provide support for his new team-mates, draws on experience he got in Qatar two years ago, when he rode for the Trek-Livestrong development team.

“I raced here in 2010 as my first real race against the ‘big boys,’ so I look forward to coming back,” Phinney stated. “I hope to come out of training camp well and really make a showing or be able to help our guys get some quality results.”

Gilbert will use Qatar as early preparation for what will be another long Classics season, when the Walloon will likely lead the team in Milan-Sanremo, the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and again at the Ardennes Classics.

“I like this race first because it's put on by Eddy Merckx, meaning it's well organized and perfect," Gilbert added. “It's also good preparation for the wind and to get a good feeling with our new riders and teammates.”

The hillier of the two Middle Eastern races, the Tour of Oman, will see the debut of Marco Pinotti in BMC Racing colours. He’s continuing to rebuild form after a bad crash in the Giro, but seems content with how things have been going.

“There's no time trial this year, so it will be a little bit of a new experience for me,” the Italian admitted. “We'll see how my form is at the beginning. My focus is more on the second part of the season with the Olympics and the Giro. But this will be a good measuring stick.”

With Pinotti, Phinney, and British sprinter and new signing Adam Blythe racing in Oman, the expectations of team director Michael Sayers seem feasible.

“Our expectation is to have someone in the top five on the general classification and to try to get at least one stage win,” Sayers said.

Tour de France winner Cadel Evans is expected to make his own debut in the Mallorca Challenge races.

BMC Racing Team for the Tour of Qatar:

Adam Blythe (GBR), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Thor Hushovd (NOR), Martin Kohler (SUI), Klaas Lodewijk (BEL), Taylor Phinney (USA), Michael Schär (SUI), Danilo Wyss (SUI)

Tour of Oman:

Alessandro Ballan (ITA), Adam Blythe (GBR), Martin Kohler (SUI), Klaas Lodewijk (BEL), Taylor Phinney (USA), Marco Pinotti (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Danilo Wyss (SUI)


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