STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colorado (VN) — Tinkoff-Saxo may not have an outright favorite for victory at the USA Pro Challenge, but the team has brought three riders capable of mounting a real challenge for the general classification.
In Czech rider Roman Kreuziger, Russian Ivan Rovny, and Danish national champion Chris Anker Sorensen, Tinkoff has a squad of skilled GC riders all seeking form amid jetlag and high-altitude acclimation.
Kreuziger finished 34th at the 2012 edition of the race. Rovny finished 11th overall at the 2012 Pro Challenge, with RusVelo, and 11th at the inaugural edition, in 2011, with RadioShack. Sorensen is racing in Colorado for the first time.
“The season is pretty long, I had the program through the Ardennes, then the Giro d’Italia, and the Tour de France, and I prefer to be here, to race in Colorado, rather than Eneco Tour or the European races,” Kreuziger said. “I raced here once, in 2012, and enjoyed it.
“I think we have Chris Anker, who is in really good shape. He’s also out of contract, and I’d like to help him, as he’s helped me a lot in the past. I’m the guy with more experience, so I’ll take a look at the guys and try to help them as much as possible. Of course, if there is the opportunity to do well, I will try, but I’m looking ahead to the Canadian races, in Montréal and Québec, I think they can suit me pretty well. Of course, if I have the opportunity here, and the legs are there, I will take the opportunity.”
Kreuziger said after Clásica San Sebastián, he spent a week of altitude training at Trepalle, near Livigno, with his family in tow. He said that because of that trip, he was feeling the effects of jet lag more than the altitude in Steamboat Springs.
“Even though the altitude here is higher than in Trepalle, it’s not so bad,” Kreuziger said. “You can feel it in the air, though, it’s much drier here than in Europe. I was fighting the jet lag, but now it’s getting better.”
Asked how he’s felt in training during his time in Colorado, Sorensen answered succinctly: “Terrible!”
“No, the last couple of days have been better, but I had a few days where I was really in the hurt bag, with jet lag, and altitude. But now it’s better.”
Asked about assuming team leadership, Sorensen deflected sole responsibility.
“I think we have three good possibilities, with Ivan, Roman, and myself. We’ll see how we are feeling. We’re a bit open here. We have an open card for all seven of us, we all have the possibility to give it a go. We’ll see, in these first days, how the race goes, and then we’ll lock in on a general tactic after that. It’s one thing, riding at sea level in Europe. It’s another thing, riding here at 3,000 meters [9,843 feet].”
Kreuizger said that he believes Rovny can do a good time trial in Breckenridge on Friday, and is perhaps one of the best TT riders of the GC contenders in the race.
“Rovny has twice done well here, and he has a good time trial,” Kreuziger said. “Of course he’s not Rohan Dennis, or Taylor Phinney, but of the GC guys who are here, I think he can perform pretty well. We have our feet on the ground here. We will fight for a top-five finish, and we’ll fight for some stage wins as well. A stage win would be really nice for the team.”