Saxo Bank trying to defend WorldTour status in Paris-Nice
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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saxo Bank trying to defend WorldTour status in Paris-Nice

by Kyle Moore at 12:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice
Haedo, Navarro protected riders for the first big stage race

Nick NuyensTeam Saxo Bank rides Paris-Nice as preparation for most of its Classics riders, including Nick Nuyens, but the team also heads to the Race to the Sun with its own distinct aspirations in mind.

With the suspension of Alberto Contador, Dani Navarro steps up from mountain domestique into a leading role within the team.

Navarro last took a win in a major stage race in the 2010 Critérium du Dauphine, when he was riding in support of Contador on the Astana team.  After riding both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France last year in support of his suspended compatriot, Navarro begins a season in which he will be one of very few Saxo Bank riders capable of riding to a good result in a stage race.

Having already taken a third place overall in the Tour Méditerranéen, Navarro seems to be off to a good start as Paris-Nice gets underway.  Along with Navarro, the team will be hunting sprint stages with JJ Haedo, as stated by team director Tristan Hoffman.

“We enter the race as a powerful team of riders with two main objectives,” Hoffman explained.  “One is to support and help JJ in his quest for a stage win, while Dani is our man for the GC.”

Hoffman indicated that a primary goal of the race would be to improve the form of the squad’s Classics riders, but said that the variety of the race should suit varying types of riders, and that riders like Navarro, Nuyens and time trial specialist Michael Mørkøv could all succeed during the week.

“Most of the riders are preparing for the Spring Classics, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be riding aggressively,” Hoffman stated.  “The course always offers tough crosswind sections on flat stages combined with difficult climbs in the mountains.  And this year, we’re looking forward to the mountain time trial on the very last stage.

“We hope that Navarro will grab a good result in the overall classification but he’s up against powerful rivals such as Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling), who are both favourites to win the overall.”

One important consideration is that the team's place in the WorldTour is currently under review by the UCI. With its main points-scorer Contador suspended and - for now at least - off the team, the squad has been left with very few UCI points. The UCI's licence commission is currently assessing the situation, but a strong Paris-Nice would send a message that the team is more multi-dimensional than last year's one-sided points total would suggest.

Saxo Bank for Paris-Nice:

Jonas Aaen Jorgensen, Juan José Haedo, Kasper Klostergaard, Karsten Kroon, Jaroslaw Marycz, Michael Mørkøv, Daniel Navarro, Nick Nuyens


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