Bruyneel confirms strong lineup for Tour of California, Horner to lead
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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bruyneel confirms strong lineup for Tour of California, Horner to lead

by VeloNation Press at 7:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of California
Belgian also comments on Cancellara, says he will return strongly

Chris HornerRadioShack Nissan manager Johan Bruyneel has confirmed the lineup for next month’s Amgen Tour of California, revealing the riders that will support Chris Horner as he seeks to defend his title in the race.

The Belgian has said that George Bennett, US road race champion Matthew Busche, Markel Irizar, Ben King, Tiago Machado, Gregory Rast and the tough veteran Jens Voigt will compete in the high-ranking US event, which runs from May 13th to 20th.

Horner had an unexpected end to his season last year, crashing out of the Tour de France with concussion and then suffering a blood clot in his lung. It put paid to the rest of his programme for 2011. He returned in a strong way with second overall in Tirreno – Adriatico, then more recently placed third on Wednesday’s stage three in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

He’ll line out in the concluding time trial hoping to finish with a high overall placing in the latter event.

Bruyneel believes that he can be a big favourite in California. “I've certainly been impressed with how Chris has bounced back from his crash in the Tour. First race back in Tirreno and he's battling for the overall,” he said in his online blog. “I think that surprised many people, including some of his teammates.

“With his experience he just knows his body so well. He knows how to train and how that translates into race performance. Hopefully with no injury setbacks, he'll be in top form to defend his title.”

The team has one big name back, but is missing another. Fabian Cancellara would normally start tomorrow’s Paris-Roubaix as one of the top favourites, but instead he’s facing a month and a half away from competition after suffering a quadruple fracture to his collarbone in last weekend’s Ronde Van Vlaanderen.

The Tour de France and Olympic Games will be two targets for Cancellara, and most likely regaining the world time trial championship title he lost last year.

Bruyneel is convinced that he will use the disappointment of missing Roubaix to motivate him in his return. “I'm not concerned for the rest of his season because Fabian's a big champion. Some riders are devastated after injury, but this will only fuel him,” he stated. “Of course, we won't have him this weekend at Roubaix. It's unfortunate not only for the team, but the sport in general. Athletes want to battle the best and fans want to watch in anticipation and awe.”

The team will line out with Daniele Bennati, Tony Gallopin, Markel Irizar, Giacomo Nizzolo, Yaroslav Popovych, Gregory Rast, Hayden Roulston and Jesse Sergent. Roulston has said that he believes he can be a factor, but even if he is in very strong form, he won’t be at the same level as Cancellara would have been.

The tenth-placed favourite in 2010 will have to play an opportunistic role, seeking to use tactics and surprise to sidestep the top grade favourites like Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma Quick Step), Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini Selle Italia) and others.


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