HTC-Highroad's Peter Velits ready to embark on highly anticipated 2011 campaign
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Sunday, January 16, 2011

HTC-Highroad's Peter Velits ready to embark on highly anticipated 2011 campaign

by Jered Gruber at 7:35 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Vuelta podium finisher planning to ride well in Tour de France

Of all of the Grand Tour eyebrow raising finishes in 2010, it could be said that Peter Velits's third place overall finish in Madrid at the season's final Grand Tour, was likely the most impressive…and surprising.

The Slovakian rider has long been considered a huge talent, perhaps one of the biggest - it's hard to doubt a U23 World Road Race Champion, but 2010 was truly a coming of age season for the HTC-Highroad rider. Third overall at the Vuelta was a career leap forward for Velits, but his time trial victory in Penafiel in Stage 17 was nothing short of remarkable. The scalps he left in his wake are worth noting: Tour de France podium finisher, Vuelta, and Giro winner Denis Menchov, four-time World TT Champion Fabian Cancellara, Giro TT winner Gustav Larsson, and many more.

With the class that Velits showed at the Vuelta a Espana, his coming season takes on a much more intriguing set of possibilities, because if he manages to build off of that success and improve - he could easily ascend the last few steps to the pantheon of the sport's best in the coming season.

According to Cyclism'Actu, Velits will start his year in Spain at the Challenge Mallorca. The theme of sunny racing will continue after that, but move a fair bit to the west - next up on the docket will be the Tour of the Algarve, a race that Velits performed well in last year, finishing 10th overall.

The season kicks off in earnest after that with the Race of the Two Seas, Tirreno-Adriatico, followed by the year's first Monument, Milano-Sanremo.

Velits could easily be classified a dark horse favorite for both races. His time trailing abilities and explosive climbing make him a definite hope for Tirreno-Adriatico glory, and a 10th place in 2009 at Milano-Sanremo certainly hint at the possibility for more. The 25 year old isn't shy about his ideas for March in Italy and says he "wants to do beautiful things."

A bit of downtime will follow the Italian swing. After that will be everyone's favorite Ardennes Classic prep race and one of the hardest races of the year, the Tour of the Basque Country. The Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege will follow.

Considering the all-around capabilities of Velits as a time trialist, climber, and sprinter, the Ardennes Classics seem tailor made for his abilities. The rider has shown himself to be extremely quick out of a select group sprint. His World Championship victory was testament to that fact, as was his 2nd place finish in Stage 1 of this year's Criterium du Dauphine, as well as a slew of other top ten results.

Following his trip to the Ardennes, Velits will have a quiet May away from racing, but hard at work training. While Velits did not specify that he'll race the Criterium du Dauphine and then the Tour de France.

Velits was set to ride theTour in 2010, but a broken collarbone at the Dauphine put paid to those chances. It's far too early to predict, but if Velits's season continues in the vein of the last few years, could he be an outside possibility for a big finish at next year's Tour de France?


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