Yesterday evening the 107 participating riders of the 5th Sibiu Cycling Tour were presented on the Piața Mare. Before the racing starts this evening with the 2.3-km prologue, we present all the 27 teams in detail and analyse their chances in the race.
A Romanian translation of this analysis will follow tomorrow morning.
CCC Sprandi Polkowice
The ambitious Polish Professional Continental Team comes with its biggest name, Davide Rebellin. The 43-year old Italian has won the race in 2013 and was runner-up last year; he will be the team leader again.
Piotr Brożyna, Josef Černý and Adrian Kurek will be the support riders for Rebellin; Nikolay Mihaylov and Marek Rutkiewicz will be the team's 'free spirits' to follow moves by secondary GC threats or attack themselves to put other teams under pressure. Mihaylov was active in last year's Păltiniș stage, preparing the stage win by his teammate Samoilau, and has proven his form by winning the Bulgarian ITT and road race championships. Rutkiewicz finished 9th in the Tour of Croatia in April and will bring his climbing legs.
Last, but not least, the team brings Italian sprinter Christian Delle Stelle: He was 2nd in the final stage last year, and will be hoping to go one better this year - but is a dangerous man on stage 1 as well.
"It's a hard race, but we have a good team, and I will try to get a good result."
Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec
Moldova-born Romanian Serghei Țvetcov is the newly-crowned double Romanian champion, so he will be easy to identify in his blue-yellow-red kit. His time trial skills make Țvetcov one of the favourites for the prologue, and he has shown in the 2014 USPRO Challenge that he can climb as well. The 26-year old will be the leader of Gianni Savio's squad in its third visit to Sibiu. Another GC hope is young Alessio Taliani who was 7th overall last year and should be allowed to ride his own chance again.
The team has experienced Oscar Gatto for the sprint stages, he is a good bet for the classic-like finish on stage 4. Fabio Taborre is a good rider for hilly races; from a breakaway, he could place high in stages 1 and 2.
Marco Bandiera and Tiziano dall'Antonia will be the team's helpers. Bandiera showed himself in a lot of breakaways in the Giro, so could be seen up the road in Sibiu as well.
Nippo - Vini Fantini
The team leader will be Romanian Eduard Grosu who has set his sights on the prologue and flat stages 1 and 4. In the Giro d'Italia, he achieved a fifth place on stage 13, and he'll want to win in his homeland. Pierpaolo de Negri is another fast man, fresh off a stage win in the Tour de Slovénie, giving the team two cards to play with in the sprints.
Italian Alessandro Bisolti and especially Colombian climber Didier Chaparro, recently 7th overall in the Tour of Japan, carry the team's overall hopes. Antonio Nibali, brother of Vincenzo, brings a famous surname to the race; together with Iuri Filosi and Giacomo Berlato he will target breakaways and support the team's other riders.
Mauro Finetto recently placed 4th in the Tour de Slovénie and 9th in Saturday's Italian championships. Best suited to hilly one-day races, he is also a versatile climber and will carry the team's GC hopes. Samuele Conti is a promising rider with overall top-20s in Venezuela and the Tour of Qinghai Lake, so he could do well too.
Rafael Andriato, Elia Favilli, Andrea Fedi, Francesco Gavazzi and Simone Ponzi all have a good turn of speed, meaning that the grey-white team also has to be watched closely in the sprint finishes. While Favilli and Andriato may be better suited to the flat run-in on stage 1, Gavazzi and Ponzi will like the classics-like finish on stage 4.
It could become a problem if the team doesn't have a clear internal hierarchy and everybody rides for himself. But if they establish who to ride for, having multiple cards will be great.
Itera - Katusha
This Continental team is part of the structure around WorldTour Team Katusha and brings a selection of allrounders. While Dmitriy Samokhvalov is strongest in hilly races, the three Sergeys Belykh, Pomoshnikov and Nikolaev can hold their own in the mountains. Pomoshnikov placed 6th in the Tour de l'Avenir three years ago, also winning the final mountain stage, and a stage win and 2nd place overall in this month's Tour of Serbia show that he's in form. Matvey Mamykin is another decent climber, finishing 5th in the mountain-top finish GP of Sochi Mayor, where Evgeniy Krivosheev placed 8th. Mamykin also was 7th in the Course de la Paix' mountain-top finish last month. Nikolaev won the mountain jersey in Slovakia earlier this month. In the mountainous GP of Adygeya in April, Nikolaev was the runner-up while Belykh finished 8th.
Sergey Rozin is quite young and more of an unknown quantity. He will probably perform domestique duties, but could well spring a surprise.
Vladimir Nikhachev, sports director:
"Nikolaev is our captain."
Matthias Schnapka and Timo Schäfer are two of the people who set up this team to race all over the world and support promising cyclists from Africa. Both have ridden the Sibiu Cycling Tour in 2012, so they know what they signed up for.
Yannick Mayer is a sprinter who beat his breakaway companions to win a stage in the Vuelta Independencia in the Dominican Republic in February. The team has signed two new riders from July who will start the Sibiu Tour: Patrick Lechner (already at Bike Aid last year) and Jonas Leefmann who is a well-known name in the German cyclo-tour scene and has now made the step to Continental level. Young Canadian Kyle Buckosky rounds out the six-rider squad.
"The 2.1 status is absolutely justified, with a good organisation, a demanding route and 4 Professional Continental teams on the startlist. For us it's about grabbing the leftovers from the big teams; our best chances are in the prologue and the final stage."
Kai Kautz is an outsider for the prologue, having finished 9th here in 2012. Julian Schulze also returns to the race, having participated in 2014; he and Florian Nowak have some good results from their junior years, but have yet to confirm those in the senior ranks. Schulze is a decent climber and therefore the team's best hope for an overall result. Georg Loef and Arnold Fiek have performed best in criteriums and circuit races, so the short and technical prologue will be to their liking. Max Walsleben, brother of cyclo-crosser Philipp, is the team's sixth rider.
LKT Team Brandenburg
The Brandenburgers won't light up the mountain stages, but Leon Berger, Tim Reske and 2009 German champion Martin Reimer are decent sprinters and may do well on the flatter stages.
Franz Schiewer, Robert Kessler and Carl Soballa could animate the race by going into breakaways , otherwise they will support their fast guys in the sprint preparation. The blue sprint jersey could be a target for the team.
"This mountainous race will be a challenge for our team. In the mountain stages we will try to present ourselves in breakaway groups, it would be presumptuous to expect a result there. We have a few riders who could do well in the prologue, otherwise we hope for stages 1 and 4. We will try to get in the morning break, and I think a breakaway will make it to the finish on the first road stage. The final stage will be a sprint as the yellow jersey's team will keep it together - and we have some good sprinters too who will try to stay fresh for the sprints."
The Trevigiani bring a quintet of fast guys: Fabio Chinello, Mattia Frapporti, Lucás Gaday, Rino Gasparrini and Davide Plebani all have a decent sprint. Of these five, Chinello is the strongest, with a couple of top-10 results in 1.1 races last year, while Gaday won the prestigious U23 race GP della Liberazione and shouldn't be underestimated either.
Giovanni Carboni placed well in a mountain stage of the Ronde de l'Isard in May; Marco Tecchio did even better with two sixth places and the ninth position overall in the same race. These two will be the team's leaders in the mountains, hoping to repeat Matteo Busato's fifth place overall in last year's race.
Team Differdange - Losch
Rick Ampler is the son of four-time Peace Race winner Uwe Ampler. In his own career, Rick has raced consistently all over Europe and occasionally in Asia. Janis Dakteris is in his third season with the team and has ridden the Sibiu Tour every year. With stage wins in the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe and Friuli under his belt, the Latvian is a man for late attacks or promising breakaways. Gediminas Kaupas is a Differdange veteran (at the team since 2011) and an accomplished timetriallist who could power a break, too.
Swiss Manuel Stocker got valuable racing kilometres into his legs at the Swiss championships and will race here to get more experience in stage races, while Krisztián Lovassy is the Hungarian time trial champion. He has won a stage in the Tour of Romania in 2011 and could go for a good result in the prologue. Tom Thill is the only Luxembourger in the line-up and will support his teammates.
Tușnad Cycling Team
The only Romanian continental team lines up a surprisingly international squad for its home race, including all three foreign riders on their roster: The French sprinter Tom Bossis, Hungarian Ábel Kenyeres and the Ukrainian Artem Topchanyuk who came 3rd in the 2012 edition of the Sibiu Tour.
Still, their best best bet for a stage win might be the three time Romanian time trial champion Andrei Nechita. He is always good for a late attack and will also eye a top result in the prologue, where he finished 8th last year. Szábolcs Sebestyen and the 2008 Paralympic silver medalist Carol Eduard Novak have been with the team for several years, and both get the chance to show themself in front of their home crowd again.
"I'm a puncheur and sprinter, so I will help Nechita as much as I can. My goal is the prologue, maybe I can in the mix in the sprints if I make it over the hills."
Romania National Team
The Romanian national federation fields a selection of six Romanians not riding for other teams in the race.
33-year old Lars Pria (Rietumu - Delfin) is the most experienced of them, having ridden for Continental teams for 8 years. Daniel Crista and Marius Petrache (both BikeXpert Racing Team) will ride their 3rd Sibiu Tour; Petrache finished 2nd in Sunday's national championship. It's the second participatin for Ionuț Sdrăilă (Torpedo Zărnești), while Andrei Voicu (Altopack Titano ASD) and Leonard Barbu (Torpedo Zărnești) will make their Sibiu Tour debut.
Parkhotel Valkenburg CT
This young all-Dutch team comes to the race with the main objective to work for their sprinter Jurgen van Diemen in the flatter stages. Van Diemen won one of the bunch arrivals in the Tour of Taihu Lake last year. Dion Beukeboom and Rick van Breda will give him a hand to guide him to the finish, while Denis Bakker is a good puncheur as well, and might try to get success from an attack at some point of the race.
Thijs van Beusichem is new with the team and the Sibiu Tour is his first race. In the off-season the part-time cyclist is employed in his parents' agricultural business, but he focuses on his cycling career during the summer, and will try to support the team as well as he can.
Frederik Wilmann and Øivind Lukkedal will be the GC riders for this Norwegian outfit. Wilmann, a professional with Skil-Shimano in 2010, is a true Sibiu Tour veteran, returning for his third edition after a 2nd place overall in 2013 (when he also finished second on the stage to Bâlea Lac) and an 11th place in 2014. A very good climber on the right day, Wilmann should make at least the top-10. 21-year old Lukkedal finished 20th last year and was the runner-up in the U23 classification. He has continued to improve since, and is a good bet for the orange U23 jersey.
Kristoffer Sommer Wormsen is a strong allrounder and, as a former mountainbiker, could do well in the technical prologue. Njål Eivind Kleiven, Torstein Træen and Audun Brekke Fløtten will try to enter breakaways.
Leonard Snoeks, sports director:
"Lukkedal is very strong at the moment. We will see about Wilmann, but they should both be there in the mountains. We will ride offensively, and have three young riders whose task will be to get into breakaways groups and test themselves."
Antonino Parrinello is the black-clad team's leader. Due to a lot of good results in Italian one-day races, the Sicilian finished 10th in the 2014 Coppa Italia ranking. Nevertheless, he didn't get a new pro contract with Androni-Sidermec, and will be eager to prove his former team wrong in his third Sibiu Tour. In 2013, Parrinello was 3rd on the stage to Păltiniș and 9th in the final stage; last year he was 14th to Bâlea Lac, 6th to Păltiniș, 3rd on the final stage and 12th overall.
Iltjan Nika is the only Albanian in the race. In 2013 he was on the podium of the junior's world championships, and he was the runner-up in the Albanian championships on Sunday. Nika is capable of a decent sprint and can survive smaller hills. If a stage is too hard for Nika, Paolo Ciavatta should come into his own. The 30-year old is strongest in hilly races and can sprint well from a smaller group.
The team's domestiques will be Adriano Brogi, Thomas Capocchi and Giorgio Bocchiola.
"I'm not targeting the general classification, but will try to win a stage. For me, the third stage is too hard, but I have very good chances on the other road stages, especially the second stage."
KEMO Dukla Trenčín
The Slovakian outfit has lined up a mixture of veterans and young riders for the Sibiu Tour. Milan Holomek and Martin Duben both born in 1995 and with no experience at his level of racing so far, while Roman Broniš and former prologue winner Maroš Kováč are both in their late thirties already and can look back on several years on the cycling circuit. Kováč will also try to make use of his good punch and have an eye on the reduced sprint finishes. Martin Mahďar and Patrik Tybor have both been with the team for several years and will try to make use of their experience collected in the past editions of the Sibiu Tour.
GM Cycling Team
Filippo Fortin will be the leader for the sprints and Marco D'Urbano for the overall standings. Fortin showed his good form with a stage win in Slovakia, while D'Urbano finished 3rd in the mountain classification in the same race, beaten only by Sergey Nikolaev and his teammate José Tito Hernández. The Colombian finished 13th in the Tour of Croatia in April and is another rider to watch in the mountains. Daniele Cavasin is on form too with a second place on a stage in a sprint in Slovakia.
The team is completed by young riders Antonio Di Sante, Matteo Rotondi and Andrea Cacciotti.