Nibali, Sagan, Gatto and Pozzato amongst contenders for Amstel Gold Race
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nibali, Sagan, Gatto and Pozzato amongst contenders for Amstel Gold Race

by Shane Stokes at 12:36 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race
Liquigas Cannondale and Farnese Vini Selle Italia lineups confirmed

Vincenzo NibaliThe Liquigas - Cannondale and Farnese Vini – Selle Italia teams have named squads for Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race which could be major factors in the outcome.

Strong duo Peter Sagan and Vincenzo Nibali will lead the Liquigas – Cannondale charge, seeking to give that team its first Classics success of the season.

Sagan has ridden strongly in one day races this spring, netting second in Gent-Wevelgem, fourth in Milan-Sanremo and fifth in the Tour of Flanders. He voluntarily missed Paris-Roubaix, remaining fresh, and has the kind of all round strength and strong finish which could see him win the race.

Team-mate Nibali is more of a pure climber, and will see to use those strengths on the tough course. Both the Amstel Gold Race and the following weekend’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège are the kind of Classics which can suit both explosive riders [Sagan] and Grand Tour contenders [Nibali], leading to some fascinating racing.

The latter has also been in strong form this year, winning a stage plus the overall in Tirreno-Adriatic, taking a stage and the runner-up GC slot in the Tour of Oman and netting third in Milan-Sanremo.

Unlike Sagan, who has been busy racing and who will take a break after Amstel, Nibali has been training in the mountains and is ready to take on the Ardennes Classic trio of Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“Everyone is envious of a pair like this,” stated directeur sportif Alberto Volpi, “and clearly we’ll organise our race strategy so we can protect them and ensure they get to the end in the best possible condition. They’ve both got the right characteristics for a nervy race like the Amstel, plus their level of fitness is great.

“They’ll obviously be racing together but the way the race develops will decide who has the best chance: Sagan can exploit his explosive power, and Nibali can capitalise on his strength in attack. We’ll have a clear-cut strategy for controlling the more intense phases of the race, which is designed to ensure we bring home a victory for the team.”

Meanwhile another Italian team will also feature two strong riders amongst its squad for the Amstel Gold Race, namely Oscar Gatto and Filippo Pozzato. However the latter is still recovering from his crash in Paris-Roubaix, and it is uncertain how he will fare.

His Farnese Vini Selle Italia team has said that he will be under ‘special observation;’ that doesn’t make it immediately clear if it considers he has a chance of winning Sunday, but after taking the runner up slot in Flanders and then being frustrated by his fall in Roubaix, he will seize his last chance to take a spring Classic if it is possible to do so.

At this point in time, though, the team has named Giro d’Italia stage winner Gatto as the designated leader. It considers the nature of the race to be perfect for his explosive characteristics.

Because it is relying in wildcard invites to get into the races, the team will not get to compete in either Flèche Wallone or Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It means that everything rests upon Amstel Gold if the team is to pick up a big one day win.

"This is our last appointment with the Classics,” said directeur sportif Serge Parsani. “After finishing second in Flanders and having an unfortunate Roubaix, we want to take another important result racing as protagonists, trying everything, before we start thinking only about the Giro d’Italia.”

Amstel Gold Race selections:

Liquigas Cannondale:

Peter Sagan, Vincenzo Nibali, Stefano Agostini, Federico Canuti, Damiano Caruso, Dominik Nerz, Maciej Paterski and Daniele Ratto.

Farnese Vini Selle Italia:

Oscar Gatto, Kevin Hulsmans, Filippo Pozzato, Elia Favilli, Francesco Failli, Matteo Rabottini, Alfredo Balloni and Pierpaolo De Negri.



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