Carlos Alzate (Exergy) leads early in the race
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Alzate in prime form after Speedweek victories
Team Exergy will line up for the Amgen Tour of California on Sunday as underdogs against the best teams in the world, but the Continental squad’s director Tad Hamilton is confident his riders are capable of reaching their goal of scoring one big result.
“One big result is what we need,” Hamilton told Cyclingnews. “It’d be nice to chase the general classification around all week, but really if we can win a stage or put a sprinter’s jersey on for a couple days that’s the sort of thing we have to try to do.”
Coming off an exceptional week of results at the USA Crits Speedweek series, Carlos Alzate will be one of the fastest sprinters in the pack. In the seven Speedweek races, Alzate won two, was second in a trio of races and never finished outside the top 10. Those results netted him the overall series, but how will hour-long criterium racing translate to five hour stages?
“I was concerned about that,” said Hamilton, adding that Alzate relied upon the advice of veteran Fred Rodriguez, a three-time US Pro national champion for his pre-Tour preparation. “Freddie told Carlos to do 90 minutes to two hours of riding every morning [before the criteriums]. It’s hard to predict how he will come out of it. I think the first day or two might be tough, but I think he’ll transition in.”
The 29-year-old Colombian is a former Pan American champion in the individual and team pursuit but also has almost a decade of international experience under his belt and showed he can handle the longer distances with a 10th place finish in the Philadelphia International Championship last year.
While this year’s Tour of California offers up few opportunities for the sprinters, Hamilton said the race tactics will dictate whether or not the stages will suit the fast men. “If we do climbs [hard] early and the race is blown apart, all the sprinters are going to have a tough time contesting it. But if
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