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Degenkolb is the leader in Sanremo while the team will look to sprint success in the Volta a Catalunya

Photo: Sirotti

ALBERT TIMMER

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BERT DE BACKER

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HANDZAME CLASSIC

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JOHANNES FRÖHLINGER

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JOHN DEGENKOLB

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JONAS AHLSTRAND

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KOEN DE KORT

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MATTHIEU SPRICK

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MILANO - SANREMO

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PATRICK GRETSCH

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ROY CURVERS

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SIMON GESCHKE

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TEAM SUNWEB

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THOMAS DAMUSEAU

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THOMAS PETERSON

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TOBIAS LUDVIGSSON

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TOM DUMOULIN

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TOM STAMSNIJDER

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TOM VEELERS

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VOLTA A CATALUNYA

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WILLIAM CLARKE

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14.03.2013 @ 08:03 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Dutch Team Argos-Shimano have revealed their rosters for the upcoming WorldTour races. 5th in last year's race, John Degenkolb will lead the team in Milan-Sanremo while the squad will enter the Volta a Catalunya with their usual focus on sprint success.

 

German sprinter John Degenkolb may be only 24 years old, but in two seasons as a professional he has already shown that he has the endurance, tenacity and speed to be competitive in the most prestigious classics. He was 19th in Paris-Roubaix in his debut year in 2011, and last year he improved further by a 6th in E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and his standour performance: a 5th in Milan-Sanremo.

 

With La Primavera coming up on Sunday, the young German looks to go even better this year. As one of the best climbing sprinters, with an ability to handle longer distances and in possession of the fast kick which gave him 5 stage wins in last year's Vuelta, he is perfectly suited to the 298 km Italian classic and looks to step on the podium this weekend in Sanremo.

 

As will be the case in all of the classics up until Paris-Roubaix, Degenkolb will have the complete Argos-Shimano roster at his disposal.

 

"The course suits him, and he will be fully supported by the team,” sports manager Marc Reef told after revealing the team's roster.
 

Degenkolb has had an unfortunate preparation of his tilt at classics success. In the hard, rainy third stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico, his team worked hard at the front of the peloton to set up their star sprinter on a course perfectly suited to his characteristics. In the final, the big German was nowhere to be seen, and it was later revealed that he suffered from a muscle problem. He abandoned the next day.

 

“John had a knot in his right thigh muscle because of the cold and the long distances," Reef explained. "He had some good massage treatments and did his training on the bike. It is not the most ideal situation, but he will remain our leader as he is in good form."

 

Degenkolb himself remains optimistic.

 

“I am really looking forward to this race as it is one of the monuments in cycling and one of my main goals this season," Degenkolb said. "I am feeling really good at the moment. I was disappointed to pull out of Tirreno-Adriatico after some good racing, but it was the right decision to let the muscle recover. I am counting on my experience from last year where I proved capable of playing a role in the finale, and we have a strong lineup with riders who showed last week that they’re in good shape."

 

Those riders are strong climbers Tom Dumoulin, Johannes Fröhlinger and Simon Geschke, loyal domestiques Cheng Ji and Matthieu Sprick and lead-out men Roy Curvers and Koen De Kort. The latter is a formidable classics contender in his own right and was 19th in last year's Sanremo before entering the podium a few days later in Dwaars door Vlaanderen. He broke his collarbone in the Tour of Qatar, and even if he returned to competition in the Tirreno-Adriatico, his form is somewhat of an unknown.

 

The same may not be said of the duo of Dumoulin and Geschke. Dumoulin was one of the last men standing from the long 16-man break on the incredible hard sixth stage of the Tirreno while Simon Geschke ended up 10th in that stage. Both are in strong condition and should be able to join attacks in the final climbs of Cipressa and Poggio to take off the pressure of team leader Degenkolb.

 

Looking to sprint success in Catalunya

On Monday the next WorldTour stage race, the Volta a Catalunya, starts in Spain. Known as a climber's race it is not ideally suited to the Dutch team which usually focuses on sprint opportunities. With two mountaintop finishes and a number of lumpy stages, this year is no exception. The team will enter the race with no GC aspirations and will look to create its own opportunities along the way.

 

“Most of the days are quite difficult,” sports manager Addy Engels said. “There is no time trial this year, but we see some chances in a few stages that will end in a bunch sprint. For these kinds of stages we will support Jonas Ahlstrand, and for the more difficult finishes we will work for Thomas Damuseau who showed in California last year that he is capable of sprinting in these kinds of finishes. In addition to the sprints we will battle to get in the breaks and see what we can do there.”

 

Ahlstrand and Damuseau will be joined by strong rouleurs Will Clarke, Patrick Gretsch and Albert Timmer while Francois Parisien, Tom Peterson and Georg Preidler feature in breaks on the harder days.

 

Kittel ill before Handzame Classic

Finally, the team had set its eyes on another sprint victory in the Handzame Classic tomorrow. With sprint star Marcel Kittel, the team had the race's overwhelming favourite in its ranks. However, Kittel has fallen ill and will be replaced by Jonas Ahlstrand. The team still expects a bunch sprint in the race last year won by Francesco Chicchi, but will now look to its other two fast finishers to deliver the results.

 

“We have to change our tactics now," sports manager Addy Engels said. "This race is made to end in a bunch sprint, so it presents an opportunity for another fast guy like Jonas or Tom Veelers, but we will see how the race develops.”

 

Ahlstrand and Veelers will be supported by lead-out riders Nikias Arndt and Bert De Backer, climber Tobias Ludvigsson and domestiques Luka Mezgec, Tom Stamsnijder and Will Clarke.

 

With bad weather forcing organizers to cancel yesterday's Nokere-Koerse, it still remains to be seen whether the race can go ahead as planned.

 

Argos-Shimano for Milan-Sanremo (March 17)

Roy Curvers, John Degenkob, Tom Dumoulin, Johannes Fröhlinger, Simon Geschke, Cheng Ji, Koen De Kort and Matthieu Sprick

 

Argos-Shimano for Volta a Catalunya (March 18-24)

Jonas Ahlstrand, Will Clarke, Thomas Damuseau, Patrick Gretsch, Francois Parisien, Tom Peterson, Georg Preidler and Albert Timmer

 

Argos-Shimano for Handzame Classic (March 15)

Jonas Ahlstrand, Nikias Arndt, Will Clarke, Tobias Ludvigsson, Luka Mezgec, Bert De Backer, Tom Stamsnijder and Tom Veelers

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