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"I know that my shape now is not 100% because my focus is to be in top shop during the time of the Vuelta. So now I am still in preparation after a week of altitude training. After the races I will return to altitude with the team,&quo...






26.07.2014 @ 12:05 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

This weekend will see Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung return to action as they kick start the second half of the season by taking part in the GP Industria & Artigianato on Saturday and the Giro della Toscana on Sunday.


Both Italian one day races are UCI 1.1 categorised events that will see a few World Tour teams take the starting line alongside a field made up primarily of Italian riders.


The GP Industria & Artigianato takes in two circuits that will each be completed 4 times. The 2nd circuit, which is 27km’s in length, incorporates a gradual 8km climb which should provide the perfect platform for attacks. While the climb is not quite steep enough to get rid of all riders bar the climbers, a pure sprinter would have a hard time being in contention after the entire 200km route has been raced. History also suggests that it would be a puncheur who is likely to triumph.


The Giro della Toscana, now being held for the 87th time, takes riders from Empoli to Erezzo over 195km’s. With slightly more climbing than the previous days racing, the lightweights will certainly fancy their chances for the victory. The closing circuit which will be completed 6 times is only 8km’s in length, trying to keep control of proceedings will be challenging. Therefore a strong team effort will be needed to obtain a result.


Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will led by young Italian Kristian Sbaragli, who has 17 top 10 placings to his name from the first half of the season. Dennis van Niekerk, Johann van Zyl, Martin Wesemann, Songezo Jim, Tsgabu Grmay, Youcef Reguigui and debutant Nicolas Dougall will all form part of the team for the weekend's racing.


"I am really happy to be back racing," Sbaragli says. "I know that my shape now is not 100% because my focus is to be in top shop during the time of the Vuelta. So now I am still in preparation after a week of altitude training. After the races I will return to altitude with the team. These two races are both close to my home so I will give my maximum to do a good race for me and the team."


"Some of the riders may have a few cobwebs, but the season is in full swing and the rest of the peleton is in full race mode," Director Sportif Kevin Campbell  said. "I expect the break to have benefited our team both mentally and physically and I’m sure they will be fresh and ready to race.


"It is exciting to have Nic starting his first race for the team on Saturday. Nic’s goal will be to support the team in any way he can and be an active participant in the race. This will be a big step up for him, and I know he is ready for the challenge. 2 tough races in 2 days will be an introduction to remember for him into the world of professional cycling.


"There are so many competitive teams and riders here in Italy. I expect some of the bigger teams to try to control the races to a certain extent, but races of this nature are still capable of producing surprises. We will have to race positively and try to control our own destiny."


GP Industria & Artigianato and Giro della Toscana (Italy) – (26 & 27 July/UCI 1.1) Team Lineup

Kristian Sbaragli (ITA)
Dennis van Niekerk (RSA)
Johann van Zyl (RSA)
Martin Wesemann (RSA)
Songezo Jim (RSA)
Nicolas Dougall (RSA)
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH)
Youcef Reguigui (ALG)



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