With tough early season contests in Spain and Oman under their belt, the team enters a second block of European racing with renewed strength and confidence. The team lands in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport Friday for a five-week campaign that begins in France and ends with England’s Tour de Yorkshire.
The opening weekend features two grueling one-days, beginning with the 183 km Classic Loire Atlantique on March 30th, a hilly UCI 1.1 event beginning and ending in La Haye-Fouassière. The following day, the riders face Cholet – Pays de la Loire, an undulating 202 km course featuring nine categorized climbs. These courses offer little respite from the endless rollers but are short enough that a concerted effort by the sprinter’s teams could keep things together for a bunch gallop.
Ryan Anderson is familiar with this style of racing, having spent two seasons competing for the French Professional Continental squad Direct Energie. After returning to Rally UHC Cycling in 2018, Anderson brings a wealth of experience in the European peloton that his teammates will benefit from.
Prior to the start of Classic Loire Atlantique and Cholet – Pays de la Loire, Anderson spoke with the team to discuss the upcoming races, personal ambitions, and the team’s improvement.
“They’re nice races especially for the team that we are sending,” said Anderson who is joined by the sprinting trio of Pier-André Coté, Ty Magner, and John Murphy. “I think they (French teams) typically race for it to be a sprint but the wind can kick up in that region and that makes things unpredictable.”
While Anderson has one eye set on the French races, the other is looking towards the team’s first-ever Belgian Classic, La Flèche Wallonne on April 24.
“I’m looking to get some more fitness and form out of these first two weeks of French races,” said Anderson. “I’m really excited about Flèche too since I’ve never raced it. It’s always been on the list of races I wanted to do so the motivation is high and I think the form will be quite good.”
Looking back on the team’s early season races, Anderson spoke about the progress the team has made over the last year.
“The first trip was tough, but really motivating,” said Anderson. “I feel like how the team has improved from last year to this year is just unbelievable. We were riding really well as a team. Everyone is training well and motivated. I think this next trip is going to be really good.”
The improvements extend beyond the usual performance measurements.
“The culture right now in the team, it’s always been strong, but right now it feels really good,” said Anderson. “With Svein being in the team as well, he’s been really level-headed to help bring everyone together.”
Classic Loire Atlantique and Cholet – Pays de la Loire rosters
Adam de Vos
Upcoming racing calendar
March 30: Classic Loire Atlantique, France – 183 km – Hilly circuit
March 31: Cholet – Pays de la Loire, France – 202 km – Extremely hilly
April 3 – 6: Giro di Sicilia, Italy – Mixed
April 5: Route Adélie de Vitré, France – 198 km – Hilly circuit
April 7: La Roue Tourangelle, France – 186 km – Hilly
April 12 – 14: GP Beiras e Serra da Estrela, Portugal – Mixed
April 16 – 21: Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey – Mixed
April 16: Paris-Camembert, France – 182 km – Flat
April 20: Tour du Finistère, France – 196 km – Extremely hilly
April 24: La Flèche Wallonne, Belgium – Steep climbs late
April 28: Rutland – Melton CiCLE Classic, England – Multi-surface epic
May 2 – 5: Tour de Yorkshire, England – Mixed