With part of the team focused on the Ardennes classics, Tinkoff will also bring seven riders to the start of the Tour of Croatia. This is only the second edition of the race and the first one to see Tinkoff line up for the start. The six day tour starts today and has a couple of interesting stages along the way.
Tinkoff has brought a versatile squad which will look to seize its opportunities as they come, especially in the hilly stages. Jesper Hansen and Sergio Paulinho will spearhead the team which also includes Sagan`s younger brother Juraj. Moreover, they will rely on Michael Kolar ad Erik Baška for the sprints, while Nikolay Trusov and Jay McCarthy return from the spring classics to help the team.
Sport Director Jan Valach, who will be in Croatia together with Ivan Basso, said:
“We will be taking it stage by stage with the guys here, but we have a strong, balanced team who can score results on the different stages that we have. In Sergio and Jesper we’ve got two climbers for the tougher stages, then for the sprints we have Michael Kolar and Erik Baška. Juraj and Nikolay have been in good condition at the classics, and then Jay has already shown his strength this season.
“We have a young team who as well as results are coming here to gain experience, so we aren’t looking to control the race, rather to be opportunistic. Jesper and Sergio will concentrate on stage 4, for GC. Then the other guys will go for stage results and we hope to give everyone their chance here.”
Stage four will most likely be decisive for the General Classification battle, with its difficult mountain-top finish, but the Team Time Trial in stage five might also play a part.
“Obviously we want to come into stage 5 with all seven guys and from there to have a good test as a team. This stage together with the entire race will be a good experience for the young guys and I hope by the end of the week that we can look back on a successful race.” said Valach.
The race gets underway today with a flat stage suited for sprinters. The stage will be 230.4 KM long and it will end in Varaždin after a twisty finish.
Tinkoff line-up for Tour of Croatia: Jesper Hansen, Sergio Paulinho, Jay McCarthy, Juraj Sagan, Nikolay Trusov, Michael Kolar and Erik Baška.
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