Written by Lance Armstrong of USA Postal Services
Hello OCM, we are back again with the second part of the Tweedaagse van Antwerpen preview, now detailing all the teams that have signed up for this unpredictable and tough tour. And once again, I will have Mr. Loudon as special guest, so he will scan all the potential winners and their support.
‘’Hello Lucas. Once again, we are together and ready to do the last part of this podcast,’’
‘’Thanks for the welcome Lance. Yeah, with all the spots picked by the 24 teams, it’s the moment to have a peak on them, to list all the main favorites and outsiders of course,’’
‘’Speaking of outsiders, as we announced before the sign up was open, Sherard Rolf has joined the fight for a third yellow jersey, but two seasons ago he was an outsider, any thoughts Lucas?
‘’You are right Lance. I think his manager cannot believe how it resulted. Most thought that it was just a lucky day but he proved us wrong last season. There are stronger riders with big support, but I don’t want to give out my favorite,’’ (laughs).
‘’Fair enough, my friend. So how about we begin with the title defender team?
1-Navarone Cycling Team
Holding the number 1, the Andorran team is ready again to give their best to make history with Sherard. Will be support good enough or Rolf will have to fight alone just like the previous editions? Let’s check the full squad.
(1) Sherard Rolf
(2) Bob Gordon
(3) Jan Håland
(4) Joos Huveneers
(5) Rolon Rollero
(6) Muisi Sani
‘’So Lucas, your thoughts about the current title holder support and his possibilities?’’
‘’Well Lance, it’s very complicated. Navarone has clearly a sprinting profile, but Sherard has managed the pressure very well in the last two editions. I don’t know if Rollero will be enough to set a good pace on the cobbles for Sherard, but the lead outs are good enough to launch the sprint,’’
‘’Is Sherard a favorite for you?’’
‘’To be honest, no. Why? Despite he is an amazing rider that has had success, there are better pure cobblers with better support, but he could surprise us again. To me, an outsider with a warning sign on,’’ (smiles).
‘’Good. Time to move on.’’
The German team was very close with their captain, Uchman, and now they are back to give that last step. Will the polish superstar taste the feeling of victory again at TvA? Here’s the team behind him.
(11) Gracjan Uchman
(12) Thijs Bouwens
(13) Arnie Bruintjes
(14) Bart Caluwé
(15) Pepillo Debarros
(16) Preben Rossen
‘’Again, the same question for Uchman,’’
‘’Well, we have a solid leader and solid team behind. Gracjan had an off day in last edition that cost him the yellow jersey when he was in the lead, so I believe he has a huge need to prove to everyone, and especially to himself, that he can be that rider we all were expecting to take over TvA,’’
‘’So, is he your favorite, Lucas?’’
‘’Well, he is favorite of course. But not my main one (laughs), the support of Rossen will be crucial, and don’t forget him as well, in case Gracjan has a bad start,’’
‘’It’s time for the next team.’’
With the third place of Paraschiv, Columbiero secured a wildcard to be here with no rush. Very surprising result, all experts are waiting to see any progress of the Colombian team.
(21) Benedict Paraschiv
(22) Cristoval De Mena
(23) Glenn Kriel
(24) Kirk Maley
(25) Andrey Pribylov
(26) Sheridan Uridge
‘’Any thoughts about Paraschiv’s chances?’’
‘’Yeah, definitely one. He will need a lot of luck if he wants to grab the yellow jersey. Uridge, a former two times winner of Roubaix comes out of an injury, and his support was crucial, the others will do their best considering the age. Pribylov will try YC mostly but if his captain is in the fight, he might drop his ambitions,’’
‘’Well said, Lucas. Time for another team…’’
The legendary and experienced Italian team is ready once again to participate in a tour the team knows very well. Blair will be the main man for the GC with Burundian Mukanganizi in a co-captain role. However, the priority will be the American rider as he finished 4th last season.
(31) Aiden Blair
(32) Maximiliaan Jonker
(33) Jean-Pierre Mukanganizi
(34) Alonso Sabatino
(35) Yury Serpionov
(36) Thomas Van Espen
‘’Ok Lucas, what about IndieRock?’’
‘’Two captains is always a delicate business. I can tell that, but lately the cooperation between leaders is more polite than my times. However, I have to agree with you that Blair has a point over Mukanganizi, but the race is hard,’’
‘’So is Blair in the main favorites group?’’
‘’Mmm… very hard to tell. Of course, as leader, you need to keep an eye on several riders and it’s hard to choose who to follow,’’
‘’Good, next team then.’’
Time to check one of the big surprises of last season. After his 2nd place at Edition 40, everyone thought Maia would not repeat such an outstanding performance, but he ended 5th last season. Does he has what it takes to claim the yellow? It will be hard but the talent is there.
(41) Fábio Maia
(42) Donatien Baregensabe
(43) Gerrit De Weert
(44) Sivori Hadassa
(45) Charly Jannis
(46) Freddie Krammer
‘’Lucas, what to say about Maia’s chances?’’
‘’From little to none, sadly. He has the oldest support of the whole race and well, despite they are good, is a tough competition and cobbles are really hard. But he could try an attack far from finish line and cross fingers of course,’’ (smiles).
‘’Not even a ten percent?’’
‘’Your call Lucas, let’s check the next team,’’
One of the biggest disappoints of last edition, the Nordic team is back to TvA with a wild Roland. Nothing but the win, after fulfilling the team’s goals in the classics last season, the belgian monster will do TvA in TF this time (likely).
(51) Roland Van Wontergem
(52) Amare Maharjan
(53) Linus Olsson
(54) Raoul Ordiales
(55) Carroll Ridsdale
(56) Daley Yankowski
‘’What about this line up?’’
‘’I’m speechless Lance. Definitely a top 3 material, Roland in top form will be hard to stop and I believe he wants the whole prize this time,’’
‘’Is he your candidate for the win?’’
‘’No, but I hope he reaches the podium for sure,’’ (laughs).
‘’Okay, let’s keep going, mysterious Lucas,’’ (laughs).
7-MOVISTAR KELME TEAM
The Swedish squad found the glory a while ago with Spanish rider Ledesma, who will have his last chance leading a team before retiring. Will veteran crush the younger ones with his experience? Last season didn’t work well but Fausto wants to retire with a good result at least.
(61) Fausto Ledesma
(62) Affe Björklund
(63) Amiral Libumdi
(64) Baldwin Matthys
(65) Jerardo Solano
(66) Feliciano Valverde
‘’What do you think about Rogero’s bet with Ledesma for GC? Isn’t it a bit risky, I mean, the team has younger cobblers that can perform well,’’
‘’Well Lance, I think Rogero wants to see if Fausto finally wins that 5th TvA, of course it would make him the best rider at the race. But with 35 years old is going to be a real challenge, even with top form. However, I wish him good luck,’’ (smiles).
‘’By the way, they also targeting the prologue with Affe and Feliciano, who won recently the ITT WC,’’
‘’That’s a good aim for the world champion, to fight the prologue and maybe a break away,’’
‘’All right my friend, time to move onto the next team.’’
Without making noise, Nobodies placed his captain into top 9 last edition. However, there’s a question, does a sprinter with cobble skill can reach higher spots? We had some recent examples but surely the manager prefers that Lorenzo stays in the ‘’outsiders’’ group. The surprise will be bigger if success comes.
(71) Claudio Lorenzo
(72) Valentin Arrese
(73) Bill Bachmann
(74) Filip Kaarup
(75) Daniel Jessen
(76) Tavio Munoz
‘’Another outsider here Lucas. Small support for a contender?’’
‘’Average. The manager clearly has a bet to surprise the main favorites with Lorenzo, last edition was enough to end 8th but the venezuelan couldn’t
launch an attack, only awaiting a chance behind the big names. Let’s see what he can do this season but I expect more of the same tactics,’’
‘’So regularity will be his best card?’’
‘’Very true Lance. But if Lorenzo aims for a bit more, he’ll have to risk this time,’’
‘’Well said. Time for another team.’’
Another team that has had success in this prestigious race, with 5 jerseys in total. Last season, Norwegian Kleven had a lot of bad luck and off days, even his team mate Vladimirescu ended higher than him in the GC (also winning the YC). Will Kleven bring another TvA title for the belgian cobble house? Let’s check the lineup.
(81) Vidar Kleven
(82) Eduard Hrúz
(83) Egidio Laeco
(84) Shan Shifang
(85) Hans-Christian Thune
(86) Inge Zetterkvist
‘’Finally, your team is ready for the scan. How do you see Vidar for this tour?’’
‘’Motivated. After the last season, he has been preparing very well for this race, and the team is ready for both GC with Kleven and the YC with Laeco. Of course, the priority is to help Vidar to conquer his first yellow jersey, but we won’t decline the possibilities of Egidio,’’ (smiles).
‘’A very ambitious plan for Jempie, but he has experience dealing with big challenges,’’ (smiles).
‘’Of course Lance, and as you may think, Vidar Kleven is my man for the GC,’’ (laughs).
‘’Yeah, that’s definitely a must for you, my friend. Let’s move to the other team.’’
With Pribylov transferred to Columbiero, polish team Bywater has no rider for the GC. This will be the tour debut for Falcone with his new squad, after spending short time in Fighting. The clear bet of Bywater is to grab the first yellow jersey in the prologue and fight for some break away results. Besides Falcone, former ITT WC Lascomb will be part of the squad, so it’s the starting point to prepare the riders for the hilly tours Essex and Cymru.
(91) Alonso Falcone
(92) Asgeir Huseby
(93) Maksym Koz?owski
(94) Kimball Lascomb
(95) Aleksander Normann
(96) Dorian Petrosky
‘’Anything to add?’’
‘’Well Lance, not much, maybe Petrosky can try to surprise the favorites,’’ (smiles).
‘’Ok, time for the next.’’
With so many highlights in the last two seasons, only shade for The King (God save The King) was TvA. With a discreet 11th in top form for Spalding, the norwegian royalty has something to say for this edition. With the recent success of Morayta very fresh in Felgens’ memory, the squad is ready to raid all over Brabant. In favor of Spalding, the american potluck arrives with his second Roubaix Classic under his arm and very motivated to do a great race.
(101) Tyson Spalding
(102) Theofanis Anastasakis
(103) Arnoldo Fava
(104) Bjørnar Fjeld
(105) Graham Gallacher
(106) Richard Masson
‘’What about Spalding?’’
‘’Very good rider, a little low in the cobble department; not too much, but Anastasakis is a great domestique, not only as pave pacer, he can solve the sprint as well. It might be his last season so it will be a very special TvA for him,’’
‘’Speaking of special, this race marks the debut of Fava in big races. Of course, not suitable for his talent, but we need to keep an eye on him for the future,’’ (smiles)
‘’Of course Lance. I wonder if the manager is thinking of finding a new cobbler or let the young sprinters to take over,’’
‘’That’s a very good question Lucas, but we have a tight schedule to follow,’’ (laughs).
‘’I have to agree.’’ (Smiles).
Bad luck ruined Tycho’s performance last season, or was the fact that he signed for both Pre and Roubaix Classic before the beginning of TvA. Whatever it was the reason of the poor performance of the danish champion, now he is ready to surely give spectacle and is the only favorite with a good punch on hills, however, those aren’t important here.
(111) Tycho Smith
(112) Anton Devenyns
(113) Ion Deleanu
(114) Baltasar Morgado
(115) Jo Van de Goor
(116) Robby Wolfs
‘’Thoughts, another Lucas or Márcio?’’
‘’Yes, Deleanu is a serious candidate for the YC. Smith might arrive a bit tired after the hard start of his team, but you need a good day to get some motivation to forget the pain in your legs,’’
‘’But Tycho still a serious threat, isn’t he?’’
‘’Of course, I didn’t say something different,’’ (laughs).
With the eternal English promise, Latvian team arrives thinking this will be the year. Will Foland leave the childhood behind and finally reach a higher level? The team behind will do everything for him and having good legs is a must to beat the favorites.
(121) Stan Foland
(122) Ragn Breinholt
(123) Mels Paas
(124) Uchida Shuhei
(125) Dorian Vallée
(126) Kelvin Wood
‘’Any words for Foland?’’
‘’Well, he has been struggling with bad luck since his irruption in the Top Division. He has been there, close to that major win in a classic, but he always face problems or someone stronger than him. A bit underrated to be honest, he will recover Wood for the crucial part of the tour, let’s see how he will do,’’
‘’He will appreaciate your words, Lucas. Now it’s time to analyze a Caribbean team,’’ (laughs).
14-Equipo Easy On
A team with tradition, palmares and experience, Easy On is here at TvA to get a top 10 with his captain Ninete. One of the GC contenders with the lowest technique, crucial for this race, but his team mates will provide some for him.
(131) Junior Ninete
(132) Cardo Aguila
(133) Conway Ellyson
(134) Dixon Laliberte
(135) Jerico Martí
(136) Chester Nehs
‘’Very interesting, isn’t it?’’
‘’A bit. I wonder Lance, if Ninete can make it into Top 10, he has interesting combo of FR, CB, SP. Sadly, a bit low in TQ but we have seen a lot of strange cases in OCM,’’ (smiles).
‘’Fair enough Lucas,’’ (smiles).
After so many frustrations, dutch team got rid of the cobble riders, and now it’s here with all intentions of getting a good result in the prologue and get some shape for the riders for future goals. A break away will be the main goal after stage 1, and we all know that time trialist love cobblestones…
(141) Jannick Isberg
(142) Karsten Aase
(143) Husam al Din Fakhiri
(144) Gerald Czy?
(145) Maximiliaan Ekelhoff
(146) Bosse Hjärpe
‘’All for a break away and attempts to surprise the main favorites. Nothing else…’’
‘’True. Time to check another squad.’’
The first stop in the season for Holwerda will be in a hard field to prepare the season. This time, team mates will have a chance here to fight any break away result and lift their competitive spirit so they can provide better support.
(151) Jochem Ploeger
(152) Wessel Clarijs
(153) Jesse De Laat
(154) Derek Joling
(155) Gert Luysen
(156) Tjeu Oosterhof
‘’Will Frank get what he is looking for here at TvA?’’
‘’Lance, you need to understand that is pretty hard to get a break away result here, but the rising of spirit of your team can be easily done. A good mix of experience and youth here, so it might be possible,’’ (smiles).
‘’It will be interesting to see this team during the race,’’ (smiles).
The Asian team is here once again to get Jin ready for the yellow dream at Germany (a reference to a famous dream is just mere coincidence). And like previous season, he will start his path to Germany at TvA, surrounded by other time trialist to see if luck is by their side and try to deal some damage to the real contenders.
(161) Shu Jin
(162) Jia Shiming
(163) Manny Sosa
(164) Joel Van De Wijngaert
(165) Lucan Verotuanie
src="http://www.cyclingsimulator.com/Flag/Hong Kong.gif"> She Weijun
‘’I think I can say now, all time trialist on board…’’ (laughs).
‘’Not yet Lance, but I would say that so many candidates for the prologue isn’t a good thing…’’
‘’Because many will have an off day,’’ (smiles).
‘’Man… that’s definitely a very well-known fact, but let’s give them some hope now,’’ (laughs).
And the last team from previous season is here. With no motivation than the prologue and try a break away, DZWF brings the weakest squad overall.
(171) Hannes Zuidema
(172) Baumgartner Boldizsár
(173) Garcia Castillo
(174) Lleyton Webber
(175) Rory Wright
(176) Sima Zalán
‘’Do you think is this team the weakest formation of all?’’
‘’Surely it is. But that doesn’t mean they can’t surprise, underestimating a team is not wise move, Lance…’’
‘’Of course is not.’’
One of the most interesting outsiders. With the national Taiwanese champion in the lead (a guy secretly desired by some random chili), Skeel will try to surprise the main favorites and get a place in the Top 10 of competition (of course, ending 10th is not desired, not even 500$ in return for such effort).
(181) Di Mingxu
(182) Albert Carrera
(183) Gaetan Digenova
(184) Radovan Houdek
(185) Jeremias Rozadilla
(186) Elmar Skeggisson
‘’A different kind of cobbler…’’
‘’Yeah. In my times those guys wouldn’t have had chance. If the team mates do a good job, Mingxu is a good candidate for top 10 surely,’’
‘’Who will be the crucial rider for Di?’’
‘’It’s hard to tell. Lately we can’t be so predictive here at TvA, but if I had to risk, I would say Carrera and Digenova,’’ (smiles)
‘’Good to know Lucas,’’
Belgian squad arrives with good mood after the 6th place in Roubaix for their captain. He will be the main guy for the YC and guys, this man has no fear to challenge the established cobblers so watch out.
(191) Jeremi Wróbel
(192) Brajan Adamski
(193) Geert De Craene
(194) Jeff De Munck
(195) Huberto Tovar
(196) Antero Vilas Boas
‘’Scared with Wróbel for the YC?’’
‘’You have no idea Lance. Truly the main man for the YC, but as trainer, I have put my trust in Laeco. A top 10 for the polish is possible and why not, an overall win; but the prime men are very strong and have reached TF,’’
‘’Hehe, you shouldn’t feel scared for a guy like Jeremi. It’s normal to find a stronger rider,’’ (laughs).
(201) Andrea Giannoni
(202) Benjamin Deryckere
(203) Charles-Henry Enderlin
(204) Dylan Getter
(205) Kyano Krol
(206) Inocentiu Mohora
*Only Lucas Loudon’s perspective will be shown, no further details (time is short).
‘’The french team has a quite old structure, but in Top Division that means experience and better riders are good as they age, just check some examples. However, Giannoni in TF might not be enough in my experience riding TvA, there are other guys like Uchman or Spalding in TF and better cobble profile, but who knows if Giannoni will be the outsider of this edition,’’
All please stand and hail the Sprint King. Despite is not a sprint race or tour, Adilson Silva brings a good team to show respect to the race and prepare the captains for the future goals. But wait a second… is that a sprinter with cobble…? God, protect the other favorites…
(211) Pascal Ostens
(212) Damien Elias
(213) Abdoul Hategka
(214) Dalton Mears
(215) Clyde Prince
(216) Miles Rowe
‘’Lucas, do you still have faith?’’
‘’Sure, why you ask?’’
‘’Well, despite Ostens is not the biggest rider for this race, the sprinters with some cobble talent have had some success, just see Maia…’’ (smiles)
‘’No comments for that…’’
With a well-experienced leader, rouches will try to enjoy the race and become a real pain for the favorites, who will have to keep an eye on several dangerous riders. Is that the trick not only for rouches, but all the teams without a good favorite? Let’s find out.
(221) Feliciano Escriva
(222) Lorenz Berton
(223) Joeri Bessing
(224) Quincas Campos
(225) Bram Demouge
(226) Joost De Paepe
‘’With a candidate for the top 9 in YC, how do you see Escriva for this race?’’
‘’He is very motivated. With that 7th at Roubaix, he can trust in his old legs one more time. He has some good team mates and Berton can easily end in the top 5 of YC. But like other old candidates, those 34 years are a big obstacle to grab the yellow jersey at the end,’’
‘’You are right. The last winner of TvA with more than 35 years old was mythical Gale Reason, ten seasons ago. So it’s not over for the veteran riders, but surely they need all stars aligned.’’ (laughs).
And finally, the last team. Il Grillo will target the YC and will how it goes in the GC. Another sprinter with some cobble strength, does it mean that future of cobblestones will have riders of that profile? Let’s see the last squad.
(231) Yor Stolte
(232) Demario Albenino
(233) Vass Elek
(234) Wessel Koremans
(235) Godfried Steels
(236) Olaf Stremmel
‘’Well, another contender for Laeco,’’
‘’Yeah, the YC seems less strong than usual. Albenino will be important for both young cobblers if they want to end in the top 9 of YC,’’
‘’So I guess we are done with the team madness,’’
Lucas Loudon’s Final Prediction
‘’So Lucas, with all the 24 teams signed up, tell me your expectations and your final podium,’’
‘’I expect a hard race, with two or three teams leading the peloton’s pace. The wind breakers will be important during the King Stage and outsiders have a real chance to surprise the weak contenders during Stage 3,’’
‘’And your final podium?’’
‘’Well, after checking all the 24 teams, I have my candidates for both GC and YC,’’
1- Vidar Kleven
2- Tyson Spalding
3- Roland Van Wontergem
1- Egidio Laeco
2- Jeremi Wróbel
3- Alonso Sabatino
‘’A very interesting bet, Lucas…’’ (laughs).
Lance Armstrong’s Final Prediction
‘’So Lance, tell us about your thoughts?’’
‘’I believe there will be only two teams having all the control during the tour, Alpine and V02maXXers, they have a strong group and solid leaders,’’
‘’What about your final candidates?’’
‘’Here they are…’’
1- Jeremi Wróbel
2- Andrey Pribylov
3- Baltasar Morgado
1- Gracjan Uchman
2- Roland Van Wontergem
3- Vidar Kleven
‘’And what about me?’’ (Sherard Rolf, current title defender).
‘’Don’t know…’’ Lucas Loudon.
‘’Better luck next preview…’’ (laughs) Lance Armstrong.
‘’Well Lucas, it was a pleasure to share this preview with you, and giving out our final candidates for the race,’’
‘’Yeah, it was fun indeed. Let me know if you need help once again,’’ (smiles).
And this was all our review of the teams signed for TvA. Post your comments with your stage by stage so we can have a global overview of the race, cross fingers and watch the yellow jersey in front of you. Good luck to all teams, and may the best win the race…