Nocentini eyeing top five overall in Tour of Beijing
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nocentini eyeing top five overall in Tour of Beijing

by Shane Stokes at 8:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Beijing
 
Ag2r La Mondiale chasing points in WorldTour licence battle

Rinaldo NocentiniFormer Tour de France Maillot Jaune wearer and 2010 Tour Méditerranéen winner Rinaldo Nocentini is the first team leader confirmed for the upcoming Tour of Beijing, with the Italian set to lead the Ag2r La Mondiale squad in the race.

Coming on the heels of a very solid season, he’s feeling confident and ambitious heading towards the race. As a result he believes that a strong result should be possible.

“With a route much more difficult than the previous year and without an individual time-trial I go to the Tour of Beijing with the aim of getting a good place in the overall standings,” Nocentini said. “I’m aiming for a top ten finish but hoping to do much better with a top five placing.

“The recent world championship has confirmed that I’m in excellent shape and confident heading to Beijing.”

Nocentini has been banging on the door of a win all season. He was fourth overall in Tirreno-Adriatico, second on the final stage and fifth overall in Critérium International, second on a stage of the Tour de Romandie, took two top five placings in the Critérium du Dauphiné and was sixth overall in the Tour of Poland.

He also achieved top 12 finishes in the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège plus three top ten stage finishes plus eighteenth overall in the Vuelta a España.

Most recently, he was tenth in the world road race championship road race last Sunday.

A strong performance by the team in Beijing could be crucial as it could determine whether it will have the points to automatically secure a ProTeam licence by being in the top fifteen teams. If it falls between sixteenth and twentieth place, it must then compete against four other teams for three slots. This introduces an uncertainty that the team would prefer to avoid.

Jean Christophe PeraudHe will be aided by a solid Ag2r La Mondiale lineup, including Frenchman Jean Christophe Peraud, who was tenth in the 2011 Tour de France and second on the twelfth stage this year behind David Millar. He was also seventh overall in last year’s Tour of Beijing.

Directeur Sportif Julien Jurdie considers the former mountain biker as another who could perform strongly. “As in every WorldTour race, our goals will be stage wins and a top ten finish overall. We will count on Nocentini who will be our leader, as well as Peraud,” he said.

Also selected are French climbers Mikael Cherel, Romain Bardet and Sylvain Georges, plus the sprinter Lloyd Mondory.

Last year the team fared well in the race. In addition to Peraud’s seventh place overall, it took a stage win and eleventh overall with Nicolas Roche. He’s moving to Saxo Bank Tinkoff Bank for next season and is consequently not taking part in the race, but Jurdie is pleased with Nocentini, Peraud and the lineup that will support them.

“The race is announced as a little bit different with stage profiles more difficult to last season. It is for this reason that we choose to build a team with climbers such as Romain Bardet, Georges and Mikael Cherel, who are able to support our leaders,” he explained.

“As for Mondory who is in an excellent shape at the end of this season, he will have a role to play in sprint finishes. We hope to conclude this 2012 season with a victory, as we did last year.”

The final WorldTour race begins on Tuesday 9th October with a stage from Tiananmen Square to Bird’s Nest Olympic Piazza.

The eighteen WorldTour teams will take part in the race. However the previously invited wildcard Argos Shimano had its invitation withdrawn this week over the tensions between China and Japan. It has a Japanese co-sponsor and team rider.

2012 Tour of Beijing:

Stage One – Tuesday 9th October: Tiananmen Square to Bird’s Nest Olympic Piazza, 117 km
Stage Two – Wednesday 10th October: Bird’s Nest Piazza to Men Tou Gou Yong Ding River Cultural Square, 126 km
Stage Three – Thursday 11th October: Green Sea Forest Park to Yan Qing Ba Da Ling Great Wall, 162.5 km
Stage Four – Friday 12th October: Yan Qing Gui Chuan Square to Chang Ping Stadium, 165.5 km
Stage Five – Saturday 13th October: Chang Ping Stadium to Ping Gu Centenary Square, 182.5 km

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