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"We’ve given thorough attention to every detail and I think these efforts will pay off. I feel ready to take up the challenge and help Alberto to reach the goal we have in Ruta del Sol, which is basically to win”.

Photo: Sirotti

ALBERTO CONTADOR

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EVGENI PETROV

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JESUS HERNANDEZ BLAZQUEZ

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MATTEO TOSATTO

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MICHAEL VALGREN

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SERGIO PAULINHO

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VUELTA A ANDALUCIA

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16.02.2015 @ 19:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tinkoff-Saxo’s first European race of 2015 is imminent, as the team is gearing up for this season’s beefed up, mountainous edition of Vuelta a Andalucía Ruta Ciclista del Sol starting Wednesday in southern Spain. Ruta del Sol features one of the toughest routes of the early season and will produce a six-stage clash between several Grand Tour favorites including Tinkoff-Saxo’s Alberto Contador.
 
DS Steven de Jongh, who will direct Tinkoff-Saxo’s Andalusian campaign, tells it’s no secret that the team will be looking for success in the GC.
 
“We look forward to the first race of the year for Alberto and we definitely aim at a top spot in the GC. Tinkoff-Saxo goes to Ruta del Sol with that goal. Alberto is ambitious about this race and wants a good start in a season in which he has very high ambitions. The goal is to have a squad with good teamwork and I feel confident we can achieve this”, says Steven de Jongh, who is backed by his Spanish captain:
 
“After many training passes, I want to compete, which is essentially what I like. I’m focused on the Giro and Tour, which will be a big challenge, but I look forward to Ruta del Sol and to compete with Chris Froome, who is one of my biggest rivals. I have to see how advanced he is in his preparations, but it’s nice with an early battle, because cycling needs these clashes”, comments Alberto Contador.
 
Contador will lead a strong group consisting of Ivan Basso, Jesús Hernandez, Sergio Paulinho, Evgeny Petrov, Matteo Tosatto and Michael Valgren.
 
Route favors the climbers
Ruta del Sol is characterized by being a race for the climbers, and this year’s exceptionally difficult edition is no different. The riders will tackle two mountain stages, one on stage 3 to Alto Hazallanas with a 16.7km finishing climb and again on stage 4, where the specialists will fight on the final, steep 5km climb to Alto de Allanadas.
 
However, the GC favorites will already compete on the first day of the race, as the split stage 1B brings a short, highly technical time trial of 8.2 kilometers.
 
“Out of the race's six stages, three will be decisive for the GC: the time trial and the mountain stages on day 3 and 4 with uphill finishes. We know it’s going to be an exciting and challenging race, as we have some strong opponents including Chris Froome”, comments Steven de Jongh.
 
Basso excited about debut
For Ivan Basso, Ruta del Sol will not only be the first race of the season but his debut race in the Tinkoff-Saxo colors. He’s dedicated to perform his best in support of team captain Alberto Contador.
 
“Since the moment I joined Tinkoff-Saxo, my ambition has been to reach the start of the season with all forces available to provide my best for the team. I'm very happy to kick off the season by the side of our extraordinay captain, Alberto Contador. I think we are at a very good level right now, as a group, and personally I feel very well”, says Ivan Basso and continues:
 
“I am convinced we have given our best this winter. We’ve given thorough attention to every detail and I think these efforts will pay off. I feel ready to take up the challenge and help Albert to reach the goal we have in Ruta del Sol, which is basically to win”.

Steven de Jongh is excited to see the dedicated Italian in action.
 
“Ivan Basso will make his debut for Tinkoff-Saxo at Ruta del Sol. The goal for Ivan here in Andalucía is to be a valuable domestique for Alberto and contribute towards our overall target. Ivan didn't have a very good season in 2014, since he wasn't in top shape. However, he has been putting in a strong effort during the last few months and has been training very hard. I feel confident he's in a form to perform well”, finishes de Jongh.
 
For Basso, Contador, Hernandez and Paulinho Ruta del Sol will mark the start of the racing season, while Valgren, Petrov and Tosatto have already seen action in Dubai. Ruta del Sol starts Wednesday with two split stages.

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