Rafal Majka leads Tinkoff charge at Giro d’Italia

Already a triple stage winner at the Tour de France, Tinkoff’s Polish climber Rafal Majka is looking to build on his leadership performance at last year’s Vuelta a España where he finished on the podium. Having finished sixth at the 2014 Giro d’Italia, Majka is vying for another podium performance at this year’s race.

Joining Rafal Majka at the three-week is a mix of climbers and all round riders able to support the Tinkoff leader over the varied terrains of the race. The experience of Matteo Tosatto, Evgeny Petrov and Pavel Brutt, starting their 13th, 11th and 7th Giro d’Italia respectively, will be valuable. They will race alongside Jesús Hernández and Pawel Poljanski who will play a role in the mountains, along with Jay McCarthy, Ivan Rovny and Manuele Boaro, the latter of whom will be keen to shine against the clock in his national race.

Talking about Tinkoff’s line-up for the Grand Tour, Sport Director Tristan Hoffman said: “Rafal Majka is the absolute leader here – if you look to the parcours, his history, how he has been riding in Romandie – so he will be our main card and our protected leader. We have a strong team around him including Pavel Brutt, who after his injury rode a good classics campaign, and will be a strong guy who can pull hard on the flats and go in the breakaways.

“We have Jay McCarthy who proved himself again at the Vuelta last year, and he has got results from the breakaway at the Giro before. Evgeny Petrov and Matteo Tosatto have a lot of experience and perform well at the Giro. We have guys who can pull hard on the flats and others who can hopefully stay with Rafal in the mountain stages, like Pawel Poljanski. Everyone has had a good preparation and is excited to be racing here.”

The 99th Giro d’Italia gets underway on May 6 in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, with an opening individual time trial over 9.8km before coming to a conclusion over 3,400km later in Torino, at the end of a 163km road stage where the 2016 winner will be crowned. As ever with the Giro, tough mountain stages are interspersed with many other difficulties and it seems at this race that even the straight forward days are never that.

With three time trials, one being a mountain climb, four possible sprint stages, five mountain-top finishes and countless stages in between, the course is for the real all-rounders. There’s even another off-road stage in the race this year, with the climb of Alpe di Poti on stage 8 featuring double digit gradients over dirt surfaces to further complicate things.

“I really look forward to tackling the Giro now, after months of preparation towards one of my biggest goals of the year,” Rafal Majka confirmed when looking ahead to the race. “As a team, we had a good winter, training and getting ready for the season and we have had strong results since starting racing which has built a good momentum. Now we are ready for the first Grand Tour and I’m excited to be leading the team in Italy. I want to do my best for myself, Tinkoff and all my fans.

“We’ve got a strong line-up for the race and it’s really good to be able to draw on the experience at this race from the guys like Tosatto, Petrov and Brutt, and to race alongside Poljanski. I think this is an important strength to have in the team. We have guys that can help me on all the various stages that the race has and then it’s up to me to be there when it matters.

“I’ve seen in Romandie that my form is where it needs to be after a solid period of altitude training in Cyprus with the team and ahead of the Giro. I’m happy with how I’m climbing and I think this is where the real differences will be made”.

As well as the push for the overall classification, Tinkoff will be looking to take what opportunities come their way for stage successes over the 21 stages. Manuele Boaro in particular will be looking to get at the sharp end of the results in the individual time trials, of which there are two flat and one uphill stages.

Majka can draw heavily on the experience of Matteo Tosatto, Evgeny Petrov and Pavel Brutt, with 28 Giro starts between them. From positioning to saving energy, to when to make your move as a team within the race, experience within the team is vital over 21 days of racing.

“In my eyes you can divide the race into three parts – the first days in flat, windy Holland, the rest of the first week in Italy with some tough early tests, and then the final week. You need to be good over the whole three weeks here, but especially for the last tests before Torino, with two tough mountain stages in the last days. Rafal is a rider who recovers well from hard efforts so hopefully he’s still have the legs to challenge here.

“I’m really looking forward to the race now and we can fix a podium spot as our objective, with a stage win also important for us. Everybody is ready to support Rafal, from the riders to the mechanics, the soigneurs and the rest of the staff.”