Team Type 1-Sanofi ready for first appearance in Ardennes Classics
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Team Type 1-Sanofi ready for first appearance in Ardennes Classics

by Ben Atkins at 1:52 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Flèche Wallonne
 
Diabetes team bullish ahead of Flèche Wallonne after strong start to 2012

Rubens BertogliatiTeam Type 1-Sanofi will line up tomorrow for its first ever appearance at la Flèche Wallonne. The American team, which rides to raise awareness of Type 1 Diabetes, did not make the six-strong list of wildcards to last Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, but has been invited by race organiser ASO to both tomorrow’s Flèche and Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

"This race is a giant leap into the stratosphere for our squad,” said general manager Vassili Davidenko. “All the frenzy and fanaticism of Belgian cycling set among the best teams in the world on a hilly course that rewards the strong and punishes any mistakes. We have the right combination of riders here this week, with veterans who have contested La Flèche Wallonne for the win and climbers who can tackle the brutal accelerations up the Mur de Huy,"

VeloNation blogger Rubens Bertogliati is a veteran of several editions of la Flèche, with his best result to date an 18th place in 2008. The 32-year-old Swiss rider therefore knows exactly what to expect at the end of the tough, 194km, Ardennes race.

"The hill at the end of the race is the Mur de Huy, and it's one kilometre long with a grade of 23-25%,” Bertogliati explained. “We do it three times, finishing on the third ascent. The type of rider who can win is the kind of athlete who can accelerate very quickly uphill and then keep a high rhythm.

“We have [Julien] El Fares and [Georg] Preidler who ride with that style,” he continued, “and I think if it comes down to a large group at the end of the day and we keep those two guys safe and fresh for the selection, then they can have a very good result here.”

El Fares has been the teams most successful rider this season to date, with victory in February’s Tour du Haut-Var and a stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe earlier this month to his name. The 26-year-old Frenchman has ridden la Flèche four times before, including a 29th place last year; he comes to the race after a brief illness, but is confident about putting in a good performance again.

“I was a bit sick after some cold weather last week, so when the opportunity was provided to rest and recover I took full advantage of it,” he explained. “I feel pretty good about my chances here, and this is the team that is best suited for La Flèche Wallonne - Preidler has been KOM [won the climber’s jersey - ed] at three races so far this year, [Vegard Stake] Laengen has gone out into some long breakaways, and everyone is in good shape for a great race.”

Aleksandr Efimkin also has a history in the race; the Russian was part of a three-man break in 2008 that arrived at the foot of the Mur clear of the peloton. They were unable to resist the superior climbers behind them however, but he held on to finish sixteenth behind winner, Kim Kirchen, two spots ahead of future teammate Bertogliati.

“It was raining and one of my co-breakaway riders slipped and crashed in front of us after the last kilometre,” he recalled. “We have a really ambitious team here in Belgium this week, and it feels really good to be back for this race.”

Also included in the white, blue and green jerseyed team is Type 1 Diabetes sufferer Javier Megias who, despite a number of years at the top of the European peloton, is set to ride his first ever Flèche Wallonne.

“The mission of Team Type 1 is to show that with the proper technology, good nutrition and plenty of exercise, diabetes can be managed and people with the disease can go on to achieve their dreams,” explained Team Type 1 CEO and founder Phil Southerland.

Team Type 1-Sanofi line up for la Flèche Wallonne
Rubens Bertogliati, Daniele Colli, Aleksandr Efimkin, Julien El Fares, Jure Kocjan, Vegard Stake Laengen, Javier Megias*, Georg Preidler

* indicates a rider with Type 1 Diabetes

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