Farnese Vini and BMC Racing Team aiming for success in Qatar and Oman
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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Farnese Vini and BMC Racing Team aiming for success in Qatar and Oman

by Conal Andrews at 9:08 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Qatar
Taylor Phinney will miss Qatar due to knee problems

Giovanni ViscontiMorale rising after Andrea Guardini took a stunning five stage wins out of ten in the Tour de Langkawi, the Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli team is gunning for big performances in the Tours of Qatar and Oman. Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti will begin his season in the Gulf races, which run from February 6 – 11 and February 15-20, and feels content with where his form is at.

“I'm happy at this start of the season,” he said in the countdown to Sunday’s start of the Qatar event. “The preparation has gone well and, even if I have some problems with my leg, caused by cold, I'm ready to do something good. We are happy, our team is fantastic – with this feeling in our group, we are sure to do well.”

He will be joined by Oscar Gatto, Patrik Sinkewitz and Guardini in the two races, as well as Francesco Failli, Diego Caccia, Leonardo Giordani and Davide Ricci Bitti.

“We worked hard during the winter, and because of this we are starting strong. Because of this we will go to Qatar and Oman wanting to win again,” said directeur sportif Luca Scinto.

The BMC Racing Team is equally determined to show in both races. The team for Qatar will include double Tour de Suisse stage winner Marcus Burghardt, the talented young sprinter Alexander Kristoff, Classic specialist Karsten Kroon, American rider John Murphy (USA), Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet and Danilo Wyss.

Talented neo-pro Taylor Phinney was due to take part but has had to call off due to a knee problem that flared up at the recent team training camp. “The whole camp I was hoping, praying that I could still start at Qatar. But, in the last days, the clock was ticking down and a decision had to be made,” he wrote in his online blog. “The unknown of whether the injury was going to become inflamed again was too strong and won over the fact that maybe, just maybe it would be alright,” he said.

“Where I start my season is still up for grabs. There is talk of Oman, there is talk of Giro di Sardegna, or Friuli. It will really come down to my level of fitness and if my knee problems are completely behind me.”

Meanwhile Kristoff gained headlines recently when he said that he believed it was possible to beat Mark Cavendish. Rather than being cocky, he explained it as saying that he had to have the belief that it could be done, otherwise he’d be starting with a defeatist attitude. He’ll have a chance to show his speed in the two races, particularly as he has recovered from a crash at the Tour Down Under.

“I expect to have better form than I did in Australia,” he explained. "I hope some days I can make the first split in the crosswinds and then sprint for a stage victory."

Team directeur sportif John Lelangue says that both races have different requirements from riders, with the wind being the big factor in Qatar and tougher terrain coming into play in Oman. “Qatar always has a big selection on the road due to the wind with pretty fast stages. Oman is totally different because there is a six-kilometer climb to the finish on one stage and a long time trial (18.5 km). So we know time gaps will not only come from splitting the peloton and bonifications, but also from those two stages.”

The team is starting 2011 as a ProTeam outfit, having moved up to the top ranks over the winter. It looks set for a very big season, and picking up a stage win in Qatar or Oman would be the perfect way to get things rolling.


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