Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) says he is ready to battle for the overall classification in this year’s Tour of the Basque Country, which starts Monday. The experienced Italian will be one of two leaders for HTC-Highroad in the six-day race, together with American Tejay Van Garderen.
“I tend to do well in the Basque Country, I was fifth in last year’s race and a stage winner in 2009 in Zalla, over the same roads where we’ll have the final time trial,” Pinotti points out. “It’s one of the most hard-fought races of the whole season, and every day you have to be close to the front because splits can happen at any time. I’m in good shape. My last race, Tirreno-Adriatico, went well and I want to see if I can take another step up in the Tour of the Basque Country.”
Pinotti and Van Garderen will headline a deep HTC-Highroad squad that also includes Americans Caleb Fairly and Craig Lewis as well as dark horse Tony Martin, already a winner at the Algarve tour and Paris-Nice this year. Martin will be under the gun to stay with the Basque climbers on the short and explosive climbs, but if he does, he will be within shooting range of the podium in the final TT. For now, HTC is betting the house on Pinotti.
“The Basque Country always has an exceptionally difficult route and the riders have to be very focused, but Marco knows it well,” adds HTC-Highroad team manager Valerio Piva. “We’ll see how they are going after the summit finish [on stage four] and then see what they can do in the last time trial.”
HTC-Highroad for Tour of the Basque Country
● Michael Albasini (Swi)
● Caleb Fairly (USA)
● Craig Lewis (USA)
● Tony Martin (Ger)
● Marco Pinotti (Ita)
● Hayden Roulston (NZ)
● Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Byl)
● Tejay Van Garderen (USA)