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“If there is a small breakaway group in one of the climbs, we have a good candidate in Tom-Jelte Slagter. If it should end up in a sprint, we are well-represented with Mark Renshaw,” sport director Nico Verhoeven says

Photo: Sirotti

DAVID TANNER

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LARS PETTER NORDHAUG

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MAARTEN TJALLINGII

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MAARTEN WYNANTS

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MARK RENSHAW

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MILANO - SANREMO

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PAUL MARTENS

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TOM-JELTE SLAGTER

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13.03.2013 @ 20:52 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

On Sunday the first of the five monuments, Milan-Sanremo, takes place. With Mark Renshaw for the sprints and Tom-Jelte Slagter to follow attacks on Cipressa and Poggio, Blanco enters the race with a two-pronged attack.

 

Blanco has had an incredible start to the season with 10 victories won by 6 different riders. With Tom-Jelte Slagter's win in the first WorldTour race, the Tour Down Under, the team kick started its search for a new sponsor in impressive fashion.

 

After such an amazing start the team had high hopes for Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, but left both races disappointed. An illness-plagued Robert Gesink failed to pose any threat in France while a bad day on the queen stage put an end to Bauke Mollema's aspirations in Italy.

 

The team looks to get back on track in the first big classic of the year, Milan-Sanremo, on Sunday. In a race which has traditionally developed into a battle between the strongest sprinters and riders attacking on the final climbs of Cipressa and Poggio, the team tries to cover all bases. Hence, they enter the race with a two-pronged attack.

 

“If there is a small breakaway group in one of the climbs, we have a good candidate in Tom-Jelte Slagter”, sport director Nico Verhoeven told. “If it should end in a sprint, we are well-represented with Mark Renshaw”.

 

Renshaw had his attempt as captain at La Primavera after he left domestique duties at HTC to go for personal success in his current team. As the peloton splintered on the climbs and most of his sprint colleagues were dropped, he managed to stay in contention and was only dropped on the Poggio climb close to the finish line. He ended up as his team's best finisher in the 21st place.

 

This year he has used the Paris-Nice as preparation, and even though he failed to achieve a result in the race's two sprints, he is clearly in the same strong climbing condition as last year. He had to abandon on the penultimate day due to illness, but if he has recovered well, he should be up there when we head into the finale on Sunday.

 

Slagter: The course is suitable to me

For fellow team leader Slagter, this year will mark his debut in the race along the Mediterranean coast. After his impressive victory in Australia the young Dutchman had a solid start to his European campaign in the Tour Du Haut Var and Strade Bianche. Even if his performance in the recent Tirreno-Adriatico was disappointing, those earlier results make him optimistic for a strong showing on Sunday.

 

“The short, steep climbs make this course suitable to me,” Slagter told. “We saw those type of climbs in the Tour Down Under, the Tour du Haut-Var and Strade Bianche, and I rode them well. I’ll admit that Milan-Sanremo is of a different calibre, but with the Tirreno-Adriatico in my system I am even stronger."

 

With this year's edition being his first, Slagter has done his homework.

 

“I scouted the last two hundred kilometres a few weeks ago. Up to the Passo del Turchino it’s going to be a fast race. After that, it’s going to be a case of staying alert and staying up front on the climbs. Only in this way I will have a chance to get a good result. I’m going give it a try and see how it all plays out”.

 

With his victory in the Tour Down Under Slagter was the first leader of this year's WorldTour ranking. With the first two European WorldTour completed, he has been relegated to second by Paris-Nice winner Riche Porte (Sky), but his stint as the world's leading rider is added motivation for the man who famously crashed of the 2011 Giro.

 

“Last week I was number one. If you are up there in the rankings, you want to prove that you belong there. That’s the attitude I am bringing to Milan-Sanremo.”

 

Slagter and Renshaw by Ardennes specialists Paul Martens and Lars Petter Nordhaug on the climbs and strong men Maarten Tjallingii and Maarten Wynants in the flatter parts while Tom Leezer and David Tanner should take care of the lead-out duties.

 

You can follow the Blanco team's exploits on Sunday live on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

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