Tony Martin targets Algarve defence, Steegmans and Chavanel chase Oman success
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Tony Martin targets Algarve defence, Steegmans and Chavanel chase Oman success

by Shane Stokes at 8:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Volta ao Algarve, Tour of Oman
 
Schleck, Cancellara and Klöden in action for RadioShack

Tony MartinAfter dominant performances in the Tour of Qatar and the Tour de San Luis plus double stage success in the Challenge Mallorca, the Omega Pharma Quick Step team is aiming to further add to its list of ten wins in 2012.

The Belgian ProTeam is sending strong lineups to both the Tour of Oman and the Volta ao Algarve, which begin tomorrow and Wednesday respectively, and both run until Sunday.

Defending champion and current world time trial champion Tony Martin returns to the Algarve event with what seems to be a solid chance of again performing highly in the general classification. The event is his first stage race of 2012 and as well as being a goal unto itself, it’s also a chance for him to test his condition .

“The Algarve will be Tony Martin’s first stage race in 2012,” directeur sportif Rik Van Slycke explained. “It will be important to understand to which point Tony is ready for the next races.”

If the German is going well, the course should suit him and give him the platform to perform. “The race features an uphill finish that shouldn’t make a difference for the men who are jostling for the general classification,” Van Slycke continued, “and a 25.8 kilometre time trial on the last day on a flat circuit that will favour a time trial rider with Martin’s skills.”

He added that the squad will also have other riders with ambitions. “We can also count on the young Kwiatkowski and on Ciolek, who is pedalling well and who still has some more room to grow. The team is motivated and ready to take to battle on the road.”

Tom Boonen is part of the team heading to Oman, yet, despite taking two stage wins plus the overall classification in Qatar plus stage success in the Tour de San Luis, the team will back Gert Steegmans in the race. The idea is to give Boonen a mental break while also enabling his fellow Belgian to chase his own success.

“After our lucky transfer in Qatar we’re going to try to do well in Oman, too,” directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters explained today. “As for the finishes suited to sprinters, we’re going to call on Steegmans. Gert was a fundamental pillar in Boonen’s victory in Qatar; now it will be his turn to try and win a stage.”

The race is a tougher one than Qatar, in terms of parcours, and so the team will call on two of its proven all-rounders to chase overall success. “For the general classification we can count on Sylvain Chavanel, who was already a major player in Argentina and on Peter Velits, although he hasn’t raced as much as Sylvain,” Peeters continued. “After the success in Qatar it would be exceptional to grab at least one stage success in nearby Oman.”

Strong lineup for RadioShack Nissan:


Meanwhile the RadioShack Nissan team will head to the same races with its own ambitions. Andy Schleck will seek to boost his early season form in Oman. He was last week confirmed as the winner of the 2010 Tour de France Andy Schleckafter the declassification of Alberto Contador by CAS, but indicated that taking the race in that way was not the same as winning it on the road.

In fact, the only time he stood on the top step of the podium as a general classification winner was eight years ago in the small Fleche du Sud race. That’s a habit that the team wants to change, and so the team may well hope that he takes a GC win prior to this year’s Tour.

He will be joined by Classic specialist and multiple world TT champion Fabian Cancellara plus triple Tour of Denmark winner Jakob Fuglsang on the team, as well as Tony Gallopin, Yaroslav Popovych, Joost Posthuma, Grégory Rast and Robert Wagner.

In the Volta ao Algarve, German Andreas Klöden is the likely team leader, but the Portuguese competitor Tiago Machado will be highly motivated to perform strongly on home soil. The duo will be accompanied by Jan Bakelants, Matthew Busche, Laurent Didier, Ben Hermans, Ben King and Jesse Sergent in the race, which begins Wednesday with a 151 kilometre race from Dunas Douradas to Albufeira.

The team is yet to take a victory in 2012 and will aim to correct that statistic in the stage races.


Tour of Oman (2.HC):

Stage 1, 14 Feb: Al Alam Palace - Wadi Al Huwqayn, 159.0 km
Stage 2, 15 Feb: Sur - Wadi Dayqah Dam, 140.5 km
Stage 3, 16 Feb: Al Awabi (Al Alya) - Bank Muscat HQ, 144.5 km
Stage 4, 17 Feb: Bidbid (Nafa'a) - Al Wadi Al Kabir, 142.5 km
Stage 5, 18 Feb: Royal Opera House - Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), 158.0 km
Stage 6, 19 Feb: Al Khawd - Matrah Corniche, 130.5 km

Omega Pharma Quick Step: Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Bert Grabsch, Frantisek Rabon, Gert Steegmans, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Stijn Vandenbergh and Peter Velits.

RadioShack Nissan: Fabian Cancellara, Jakob Fuglsang, Tony Gallopin, Yaroslav Popovych, Joost Posthuma, Grégory Rast, Andy Schleck and Robert Wagner


Volta ao Algarve (2.1):

Stage 1, 15 Feb: Dunas Douradas (Almancil) – Albufeira, 151.0 km (ITT)
Stage 2, 16 Feb: Faro – Lagoa, 187.5 km
Stage 3, 17 Feb: Castro Marim – Malhão, 194.6 km
Stage 4, 18 Feb: Vilamoura – Tavira, 186.3 km
Stage 5, 19 Feb: Lagoa – Portimão, 25.8 km (ITT)

Omega Pharma Quick Step: Gerald Ciolek, Dries Devenyns, Michal Kwiatkowski, Nikolas Maes, Tony Martin, Niki Terpstra, Matteo Trentin and Martin Velits.

RadioShack Nissan: Jan Bakelants, Matthew Busche, Laurent Didier, Ben Hermans, Ben King, Andreas Klöden, Tiago Machado and Jesse Sergent

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