GEOX-TMC ready to race at Milano-Sanremo.
Sport Director Stefano Zanini gives an emphatic thumbs up before the start of the race.
Daniele Ratto chasing after a crash. © Bettini
– MILANO-SAN REMO –
It was a difficult outing for GEOX-TMC Saturday at the Milano-Sanremo, the first big classic of 2011. Rain-slicked roads triggered a slew of crashes, particularly along the slippery descent of the Le Mànie climb.
Saturday’s crashes claimed five GEOX-TMC victims: David Blanco, Fabio Felline, Matthias Brandle, Marko Kump, and Matteo Pelucchi, as well as some of the sport’s top sprinters like HTC Highroad’s Mark
Cavendish, Thor Hushovd of Garmin-Cervelo, and defending champion Oscar Freire of Rabobank.
More than 40 riders didn’t finish the race as a result of crashes, and due to injuries sustained Saturday, Brandle will now sit out the Settimana Coppi & Bartali, and
Kump will not start the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.
In the race won by HTC-Highroad’s Matthew Goss, David Gutierrez was GEOX-TMC’s top finisher, coming in 68th among some of the best competition this season.
– UPCOMING RACES –
Next up for GEOX-TMC is the 7-stage Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, which will run from Monday, March 21st to Sunday, March 27th.
It is GEOX-TMC’s first participation in a UCI World Tour stage race, the premier league of cycling. Co-captains Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre will be returning to action after great performances in the Vuelta a Murcia, where Menchov finished third overall.
“The Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, besides being a very prestigious race, is also another step on the way to the Giro d’Italia,” explained Menchov.
“Unfortunately, last week, I wasn’t very lucky; first, I crashed while I was training: A car hit me on the streets of my hometown; then, I got the flu. But now, I’m much better, and I want to line up for Catalunya,” he said. “The first stages will be important for me to understand the shape I’m in and improve my condition.”
Similarly, Carlos Sastre will use Catalunya as a conditioning gauge.
“For me, Catalunya is an important race, not for results but for reaching the right level of form before the Giro,” said the 2008 Tour de France winner, who has only raced 3 days thus far this season.
“After Murcia, I have continued to build my training kilometres and will ride the Volta a Catalunya with the goal of accumulating racing kilometres and race rhythm.”
Colombian Mauricio Ardila, Spaniards David de la Fuente and Rafael Valls, Russian Dimitry Kozontchuk, Switzerland’s Marcel Wyss, and Italian Marco Corti will be joining Menchov and Sastre on the course. Corti will be riding in place of the injured Marko Kump.
GEOX-TMC will also be racing this week in the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali from Tuesday, March 22nd to Saturday, March 26th.
Coppi & Bartali will start on the Adriatic coast with two semi-stages: Stage 1 in the morning and Stage 2′s spectacular team time trial in the afternoon.
“Coppi & Bartali, with 4 in-line stages, plus a team time trial and individual time trial, will be very interesting for the team,” said GEOX-TMC Sport Director Stefano Zanini.
“Unfortunately, we won’t be able to line up Austrian TT champion Matthias Brandle because of the injuries he sustained on Saturday in Sanremo. Matthias is a specialist in races against the clock. He would have been very important to the team’s results, but Switzerland’s Noe Gianetti will be replacing him,” Zanini explained.
“The team is ready and motivated – even Blanco, who has two stitches on his right arm, and Pelucchi. Both riders have recovered well from their falls in the Sanremo,” he added.
Juan Jose Cobo, Arkaitz Duran, Fabio Felline, David Gutierrez, and Daniele Ratto will also be starting at Coppi & Bartali.