Leigh Howard Previews Tour of PolandSun 5 Aug 2012
As I prepare to line up for Tour of Poland, I wanted to take some time to tell you about the other WorldTour race in our program this July.
Czeslaw Lang, Tour of Poland race director, asked to reschedule his race to avoid a conflict with the Olympics. In doing so, he gave riders headed to London but not selected for or uninterested in racing the Tour an alternate option. It’s the last big race they can do as preparation, and as the last big race before the Olympics, it means were going to be facing a stiff level of competition.
We’re bringing a strong line-up, especially for the sprints, so we’re definitely excited about the higher level of competition at this year’s race.
I’ve had a good look at the profiles, and the characteristics of the race are still not completely clear. What is clear is that this race will be not only more competitive but also cover more challenging terrain than in past years. From what I can gather, there should be three sprint stages over seven days of racing – one of which is 240 kilometers long. That’s definitely going to be a hard day. There seems to be a few stages that are for the punchier sprinters that can climb, and there are also two mountain stages. The race will run mostly through the south of Poland, and the final stage is a repeat of the popular city circuit in Krakow that closed out the 2011 edition of the race.
Julian Dean lines up with the team for his first race since he broke his leg in March at Volta a Catalunya. The early spring race had been his debut with the team after an earlier injury forced a late start to his season. Having missed out on six months of racing, Julian is eager to get back out there, and we’re all eager to have him.
Tomas Vaitkus is another rider that will see Tour of Poland as a personal test. He has been dealing with a knee injury since the Giro d’Italia and missed out on the Tour de France as a result. He’ll be looking to mix things up in the sprint as part of our sprint train.
Daniel Teklehaimont is using this race as preparation for the Olympics, and he has been given free reign by the team to try to go for the general classification. The harder climbing days may suit him, so we’ll see how he goes as the race unfolds.
Aidis Krupois is a super fast guy at the finishes. He has found the hills challenging in the past, so he focused on climbing in training. He’s worked hard to improve in that area, and it will be good to see him in top form and ready to go for it at the finish.
This is my first race back since Dauphiné. I had a bit of a rest week following the race and then did some altitude training. While we plan to pull for Aidis in the sprints, the teams can count on me as a second option.
Looking at our collective strengths, it’s obvious that we’re planning to be competitive in the sprints. Dean is one of the best guys in the leadout business, and Vaitkus did a great job working in the sprint train for Matt Goss at the Giro d’Italia in May. Jens Mouris has a huge diesel, and Mitch Docker is back from a long stint at altitude. Fumy Beppu hasn’t raced since the Giro, and I know it’s ready to be back with the team. I’m looking forward to seeing us all unleash our horsepower in the bunch at the finish.
Tour of Poland finishes around 7PM (CET) daily, so our stage finishes won’t conflict with the Tour. Just stay tuned a bit longer than usual, and we’ll fill you in the team’s second race of the day. With our Tour de France microsite having replaced our usual website at the moment, look to Facebook and Twitter for the same updates you’ve be accustomed to the team providing you.
ORICA-GreenEDGE for Tour of Poland