Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Milano-Torino and Gran Piemonte
Bob Jungels and Enric Mas will race for the first time since the Innsbruck World Championships.
Superga, the spectacular hill overlooking Turin, one of Italy's most important cities, will be the main attraction of Wednesday's Milano-Torino, a race created in 1876 which has enjoyed an important revival this decade, that saw it become an important fixture on the calendar, thus attracting many top names who have stopped there on their way to Il Lombardia, the season's final Monument.
Held on a 200km-long course, the race should be a quiet one until the final 24 kilometers, when the riders will tackle Superga for the first time. A regular climb, averaging 9.1% over 4.9 kilometers, Superga will thin out the peloton and even see some riders try to attack from afar, in an attempt to build a substantial gap there and on the technical descent that leads back to Turin or to pave the way for their leaders before the second and final ascent of the now iconic hill, with five kilometers to go.
One day later, the peloton will be at the start of Gran Piemonte, a race won by some of cycling's biggest champions, from Costante Girardengo to Alfredo Binda and from Gino Bartali to Eddy Merckx. Running from Racconigi to Stupinigi, the 191km mostly flat course favours the sprinters, and to a certain degree, also the attackers, who can try to steal the victory on the narrow and technical roads taking to the small town located on the outskirts of Turin.
Eros Capecchi, Laurens De Plus, Mikkel Honoré, Bob Jungels, Enric Mas, Jhonatan Narvaez and Pieter Serry will be the seven Quick-Step Floors taking on Milano-Torino, with Kasper Asgreen, Barnabás Peák and Florian Sénéchal set to replace Jungels, Mas and Narvaez for the second race.
The quality of the Quick-Step Floors roster makes sports director Davide Bramati confident in getting a good result, even though he won't count on one of the team's performers this year: "We are heading into these two late-season Italian races with strong teams and with the belief that we can be in contention when things are decided, despite not having in our ranks Julian; he felt completely empty after the World Championships, which came at the end of a long and wearing year, but at the same time very fruitful, so together with the team, he took the decision to end his season in order to come back stronger next year."
Winner of twelve races this season, his best since turning pro, Julian shrugged off the disappointment of not riding this week's one-day races: "After the Worlds, I have felt very tired and despite the fact I would have loved to do the Italian races, including Lombardia where I was second last year, it's the right decision to call it a season. It has already been a long season, from February until now, and with many objectives throughout, which were physically and mentally consuming. I have enjoyed many beautiful moments and nice victories with the team, from Colombia, where I debuted, to Slovakia, where I captured my last win, which I am grateful for. I want to finish on a high note and as I haven't been in a condition to train lately, there is no point in going to Italy. I will take some time to recover well and then start looking forward and preparing for 2019."
What can we expect from the next two races? Davide Bramati explained: "In Milano-Torino we will see a natural selection on Basilica di Superga. Some attacks will come on the first lap, but the strongest guys will go clear later, on the second ascent. Fortunately, we have a team comprising several riders who can do well on a tough final like Superga. Piemonte is an easier race and we have to be attentive and present from the start, as it's not impossible that a breakaway can go all the way. In case of a bunch sprint, we will rely on a fast and strong Florian, who has shown great form lately."
Photo credit: ©David Ramos/ Getty Images