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2013 Pro Cycling Season Preview Pt 1

February 09, 2013 / by / 1 Comment

Ag2R2D2

Ag2R is a French team with some new rides/sponsors (out goes Kuota in comes Focus) Gone is our personal mancrush Nico Roche and in comes diminutive Italian climber Dominico Pozzovivo.  Not much to see here..newcomer Hutorovich is a 2nd rate sprinter who might surprise a with a win, but we’re not hoping for much more than that.

Former CX star and Gollum look a like climber Jon Gadret could challenge top 10 in one of the big 3 GTs.  We also expect Manuel Beletti will challenge smaller sprints. Rider to watch: Carlos Betancur continues the Columbian pride – this kid is a u23 champ and baby Giro winner.

Astana 

Despite their reputation, Astana is possibly the most improved team from last year. Big fish Vincenzo Nibali joins the squad and will be the big dog for Grand Tours. He brings with him gregario Valerio Agnoli who will assist him for his bid to win one of the big 3. Also new to the team is Andrea Guardini. The young Italian sprinter who will get a shot at big races to contest the big dogs …instead of beating 18 no names at the tour of whocaresistan.

He beat cav FLAT out in a giro stage last year and could be fun to watch, but still needs to improve. GT hopeful and Lilith Fair enthusiast Jakob Fuglsang also joins the squad and will get to finally race for himself after a year in the doghouse at Leopard Shcleck. Another rider to watch is Fabio Aru – a young Italian climber who made waves in smaller races last year and should continue to improve. Not to mention the returning cast of characters Gasparatto, Kessiakoff, ect..

Blanco –

Blanco might be the most well rounded and deep squad in the pro peloton, since they are filled with young talent that should only get better as the sason goes on. Kelderman can TT and climb, TJ “The Butcher” Slagter is a rider in the mold of Purito who excels on really punchy climbs. The two headed monster of Mollema/Gesink for GTs will be looking to rebound after bad luck and a bunch of crashes.

Promising newcomer/ex Garmin classics revelation from last year Sep Vanmarcke and ex CX world champ Lars Boom make a good classics squad. Former Aussie TT champ Jack Bobridge looks to find himself.  Mark Renshaw and  Theo Bos will try to figure out this whole sprinting thing.

BMC 

Some of my fav moments as a fan last year came from BMC. Phinney was “this” short from having an EPIC season: A great showing at Paris Roubaix/spent some time in Pink at the Giro/close calls in worlds and Olympic RR AND TT…I am really expecting a big year from him. TJVG finally looked like he took that big step forward. He still is prone to a bad day (see paris niece, the last 2 tours of California and the Colorado cycling challengeseses (e.g., totally getting dropped by Joe Dombrowski).

I think he remains steady this year but 2014 will be THE year for the young american. Phil Gil had a disappointing season, but then again anything is disappointing compared to his 2011 campaign. Fortunately for him, his biggest win just happened to net him that sweet, sweet world champion jersey. I said this last year, but the rider who makes least sense to me on BMC is Thor Hushovd. At this point in his career he just seems like an overpaid stage hunter. Plagued by a virus last year, I have to assume he will be chasing his cobbled white whale at Roubaix.

I hope that’s not the case because I think Phinney would be better rider to back. I know Phinney will have plenty more opportunities but if the goal is to win, Phinney makes more sense in my mind (spoken as a wannabe cat 5 cyclist – but a cat 2 fantasy cyclist). They also have some guy named Cadel Evans..I guess he won some race in France or something. Rider to watch: Greg Van Avermaet. I feel bad for this guy, always seems to be riding in the shadow of his teammates. Given the chance he could lead a classics squad. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him animate and maybe steal a win.

Cannondale –

No more Leakygas, but the lime green is still in effect. For years they were pretty much the Italian version of Euskatel – a legit GT contender here and there, backed by no-name homegrown domestiques without hope of doing anything. This team is pretty much all about Sagan and I am A-Ok with that. I said it 2 years ago and it’s obvious now..  this kid is LEGIT. It’s just up to him to decide what he wants to do. The talent is there to make a run at the GT down the road. But it’s only a matter of time until he racks up the classics victories.

Last year he was a finished 2nd in gent wevelgem, 3rd in amstel, and 5th in flanders (races usually suited for different specialists. I chalk up his narrow misses to inexperience. I think would think that this is the year he “breaks through” and adds to his trophy case. It’s Peter Sagan’s world, were all just living in it. I don’t really see a GT threat here. Basso is old and his best years behind him, and Nibs has moved on to Astana. C-dale also features to promising Italians Moreno Moser and Damiano Caruso. After spending last year on the track prepping for the Olympics Fastman Elia Viviani will look to challenge sprints and u23 world bronze medalist Boivin is interesting. Cannondale is also home to the coolest dude in the entire pro peloton. TED KING. We totally recommend bookmarking www.IAMTEDKING.com.

Yooska (Euskatel Euskadi) –

They finally let some non-Basque dudes on the team…still don’t care. At least their kit is let ugly than recent years. Sanchez/Anton will be in the mix for some races.. a random Yooska will win a mountain stage..aaaaaand the rest of them will be busy causing crashes in every race they join. But seriously folks, Ion Izagirre is a guy to watch after winning a stage in the Giro last year, and former u23 world champ/Tour L’avenir winner Romain Sicard will try build on a solid Vuelta. Sicard’s career has been filled with wierd muscle imbalance injuries so far.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Digangi

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