After tough stage racing campaigns around the globe, the men’s team narrows their focus this weekend, starting two French one-days in the foothills of the Alps. Saturday’s Classic de l’Ardeche, and Sunday’s Royal Bernard Drome Classic both feature multi-lap circuit formats and unique course layouts, giving the team a different brand of challenge after the slow grind of stage racing in Andalucia, Dubai, and Oman. A nine-man team will compete in France, with seven riders starting each race.
Classic de l’Ardeche, with a dizzying sequence of climbs, will see Ryan Anderson and Rob Britton lead the charge, with Adam de Vos, Nigel Ellsay, Evan Huffman, Kyle Murphy, and Emerson Oronte filling out the team.
Royal Bernard, with a flat profile punctuated by one final spike, will require vastly different approaches if the team expects success. Anderson and Britton will be exchanged for riders with more flatland speed, in all-rounder Matteo Dal-Cin and sprinter Colin Joyce.
Team Director Patrick McCarty sees the pair of UCI 1.1 ranked events as an opportunity for veteran riders with experience in Europe to shine.
“We know that both races will be very difficult this weekend. The courses are difficult, but not so much that they will neutralize the aggressive racing we are after,” said McCarty. “We have a few fast finishers, a few climbers, and a few guys that are good at managing a small group near the finish line. I think we will have some options, both days.”
The 18th edition of the Classic de l’Ardeche takes off from the commune of Guilherand-Granges, in the heart of French wine country. The 2018 edition features an all-new course, first tackling three laps through the hills of Cornas, centered around the impossibly steep ascent of the Val d’Enfer (Valley of Hell). The final lap takes a different route and is punctuated by a final ascent of the Val d’Enfer. With this harrowing kicker less than 5 km from the finish, the first survivors over the crest will likely contest the win.
The Royal Bernard Drôme Classic will take place on Sunday, February 25, 2018. With a similar three-lap, one-lap mixed format, riders will come prepared but likely be relieved by the flatter course profile. The iconic landscapes of the Val de Drôme provide a lush backdrop for a crushing two section circuit, with a profile culminating in a challenging 5.2% grade ascent of the Col de la Grande Limite. Like the Ardeche race, the outcome will likely be like determined on this steep final ascent to the finish line – which sprinters can survive this ascent, after 170 km of flat racing?
“We have nine riders for the weekend, with seven taking the start each day,” explains McCarty. “We’ve sorted the rosters so that we will feature some of our faster riders in Sunday’s race, and some of our stronger climbers in Saturday’s race. Sunday will be difficult as many teams will be starting the same riders. We are hoping that saving some of our faster finishers for Sunday will put us at an advantage.”
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Classic de l’Ardeche Roster
Adam de Vos
Reserve – Matteo Dal-Cin
Reserve – Colin Joyce
Royal Bernard Drome Classic Roster
Adam de Vos
Reserve – Ryan Anderson
Reserve – Rob Britton