Saunier Duval/Prodir Tour of Georgia
Team and Rider Preview for Tour of Georgia. Marco Pinotti leads the birds of
Saunier Duval Team strong with sprinters, hard men and climbers.
By Bart Hazen and Andy McDobbin
The Spanish outfit Prodir-Saunier Duval have brought a strong team to the
Tour of Georgia, despite the race falling crash-bang in the middle of the
Classics season and a week after the Tour of the Basque Country. They clearly
mean business, and will be looking for stage victories in the couple of bunch
sprints the parcours looks to offer, while also bringing some North Americans
back across the pond and raring to go well at what is virtually “home”.
The up-and-coming Spanish sprinter Francisco Jose Ventoso is likely to
up there in the bunch sprints; fans may remember his first year as a pro, in
2004, when he won the
USPRO Championships as well as a Tour of Qatar stage.
Despite several good sprint finishes this season in the Vuelta a Valenciana and
Paris-Nice, Ventoso has not won since that day in Philadelphia, so it would
perhaps be apt that he ends this winless spell back on America soil.
Canadian Charles Dionne and native
Aaron Olson will be
returning to North America, having made injury-free starts to their
Prodir-Saunier Duval careers in Europe.
Dionne is also likely to be gunning for
good finishes in the sprints, as he’ll be highly motivated riding on what is as
good as home ground (considering the shall-we-say-low number of races Prodir-Saunier Duval will be attending in Canada). He’s also knows what it is to
beat the best from Europe, having won two editions of the San Francisco GP.
Dionne's career includes rides for the 7/Up/Cannondale and Webcor Construction
team in the North American pro circuit.
Olson, meanwhile, is a powerful rider who will be looking to get into one or two
breakaways, having already won the Most Aggressive Rider prize in the Tour of
Georgia's fourth stage last year.
Brazilian Luciano Pagliarini will also be one to watch out for. Though
perhaps less consistent than Ventoso, he is blessed with a sharper acceleration,
and if he can find clean air, there could be fireworks.
Marco Pinotti is the only man retained from last year’s Tour of Georgia;
the Italian, noted for his ability against the clock, sprinted to third from a
breakaway in Dahlonega on the way to a fine seventh overall, as the highest
foreign finisher. A similar finish in the top ten would be pleasing for the team
bosses, and Pinotti looks to be the only man with the ability to do so.
The rest of the team consists of Peter Mazur, Arkaitz Duran
Alberto Fernandez. Mazur is a former world junior time-trial champion who is
slowly maturing into a strong, powerful rider, while Duran can lay claim to
being the youngster rider in the ProTour, at the tender age of nineteen.
Marco Pinotti is born at 25 February 1976.
He is now riding his 2nd year for the Spanish team of Saunier Duval-Prodir
after riding his whole career until then for Lampre.
Marco Pinotti at Tour of California photo c. www.dailypeloton.com
He loves riding in America
and that’s why he finished 7th last year and will come back this
year. Earlier this year he rode also the Track World Cup in Los Angeles and the
Tour of California where he finished 39th overall. His ambitions for
the Tour of Georgia are very clear to do well in the general classification. On
he said after the Settimana Ciclista Internazionale the following:
“Now I'm feeling good, I did some light work last week and recovered from the
intense month of March. Then I started to work to improve lactate tolerance in
order to do a good Tour of Georgia.
The long time trial will be decisive and I
wanted to train with the TT bike as well. This kind of training is very specific,
and requires a strong commitment.
I will keep on working in this exercise until
Saturday and then I will recall the endurance with 2 long rides next week. I
look forward for the next race and I hope the March races helped me to find new
confidence. Mental training is already focused on Georgia since last January and
I am ready for the challenge."
Last week before he head down to Georgia he said the following:
"I will leave for Georgia next Saturday morning through Frankfurt. The route
seems to be similar to 2005 even if the mountains stage seems less hard, but
with the same epic finish in Brasstown. And the time trial is longer. I think I
can perform well if I will stay focused. I trained well and now I will recover
which allow me to peak.
"After focusing on lactate last week, I trained for the first time more than 7
hrs (Yesterday), in order to increase my endurance, considering that at the Giro
there will be more than one long day. And I think this can be useful also in
The team for Georgia will be likely: Pinotti, Pagliarini, Ventoso, Dionne,
Olson, Mazur, Fernandez and Duran. Matteo Algeri told me that it is not sure
Duran will start, because he is a bit tired after Pays Vasco, even if I noticed
he was doing well. I do not know where I'll ride after Georgia (and before the Giro), but probably I will recover from jet lag first of all."
In the meantime Arkaitz Duran will not start
and the participation of Charles Dionne is not sure. For sure it is that
Christophe Rinero will ride instead of Arkaitz Duran. Duran was scheduled to do the Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Aaron Olson in the break Tour of California Stage 7
Aaron is born on 11 January 1978. It’s his first year for the yellow squadra
of Saunier Duval after riding his whole career for American Trade Team 3 (now
Continental Teams). Last January
had an interview with Aaron Olson and he said about himself:
“I think I have a lot of potential. Right now I am an all around rider, one
who is improving in stage races (which is my ultimate goal and what I like
most), and every year I am improving in the Time Trial a lot. Of course, now I
am against the best in the World at each race, but it seems to bring my level
up. Usually I am the guy you can always count on, to work hard, to bring the
leaders to the front, to work on the front, and when I have the opportunity, to
do well from a breakaway. Every year I become stronger, and most importantly I
enjoy what I do, and I am motivated”
In the last Tour of California Aaron rode a good Tour of California and was
riding a lot in the breakaways. Aaron told me:
“Some of the guys raced previous to the Tour of California. For me, having my
first race done is great. I felt much better each day, was able to help the
guys, and earn respect from them on the bike, and to be in the breakaway all day
on the final day, made it more enjoyable for me as well. The race was a success,
both for the team and the organization who put it on. We had a podium with Ricco
(2nd place into Thousand Oaks), and everyday were in the mix some. I think the
team was happy with my performance, Of course I always hope for more from
myself, but it was a success, to stay healthy, and improve each day. It is what
I need for the early season. “
For the coming Tour de Georgia his role will be
familiar to the one in the Tour of California. Helping the team and to be in
some breakaways. Marco Pinotti will be the team leader in this race for the GC.
Francisco Ventoso is there guy for the sprints together with Luciano Pagliarini.
Peter or Piotr as you wish is born on 2 December 1982. He is born in Canada
but rides for Poland. In an older
2002 he said about that:
“When I was 12 years old I went to Poland and did some training
rides with my dad's old team. I was surprised by the interest in the sport and
the number of riders that took part in races. It was the first time I
encountered an atmosphere where cycling is of great importance. My initial
feeling was that I wanted to compete with the large number of riders. I returned
a couple years later fully prepared and was successful basically from the
beginning. After a few races I was invited by the Polish National Team for camps
and ever since then they have been supporting me. “
For the former World Champion time-trial, at the junior ranks, it’s his
first year as a real pro in cycling riding for Saunier Duval. He started his
career in 2003 with Team Bonda before riding 2 years for the Dutch team of Skil-Moser.
In August 2005 he switched to Navigators where he rode as a stagiair. His
strength is especially the time-trial regarding his world title (juniors) and
the national title time-trial last year of Poland.
In the coming Tour of Georgia he will be a helper of the team and will try to do
a good time-trial. It is important to Peter as he makes the adjustment to the
pro tour level.
Luciano was born on 18 April
1978. He started his career with Lampre before moving onto Liquigas in 2005 and
since the beginning of 2006 he has been riding for Saunier Duval. Luciano won already
7 times of which 5 stages in the Tour of Langkawi. This year he finished 3rd
in a stage of the Vuelta Ciclista Castilla y Leon.
The Brasilian is more a sprinter with lots of potential; but he didn’t show it
that much. In the coming Tour of Georgia he will be together with Francisco Ventoso the
Saunier/Duval man for the sprints. Maybe Luciano can win again in Georgia since
the final stage of Langkawi 2003.
Luciano Pagliarini website.
Alberto Fernandez de la Puebla Ramos
Alberto Fernandez is born on 17 September 1984. For Alberto it’s his first
year as a professional. He will be a helper for the team and is in a kind of
Alberto is more a climber regarding to some results of his U23
period so we will see what he can do in the Brastown Bald mountain stage on
April 22nd. The best result so far of him in 2006 is a 19th
rank in the GP Chiasso at 32 sec. of winner Remmert Wielinga (Quick Step who
will participate in the Tour of Georgia as well.
Fracisco Ventoso is born on 6 May 1982. It’s his 3rd year as a
pro with Saunier Duval.
He started his career very well with 2 victories in his
first year winning a stage in Qatar and the GP of Philadelphia (Wachovia USPRO
Championships). This year he rode very well in Valencia (finishing 2nd and 3rd
in a stage) and in Paris-Nice where he finished 3rd in a stage after Boonen and
After Paris-Nice he rode the Classics in Belgium and he was the
best rider of the team. He was in the decisive break in the Tour of Flanders
before dropping off due to the high pace and in Gent-Wevelgem he was one of the
best riders in the race but due to a flat tire he finished only 22nd.
Francisco Ventoso is a kind of
all rounder with a good sprint. In the coming Tour of Georgia he will be one of
the teams men for the sprints together with Luciano Pagliarini. And I’m sure that 2
times stage winner at the Tour of California Juan José Haedo will have some
serious opponents in the Saunier Duval sprint duo.
Christophe is born on 29 December 1973. He started his career with a small
team in France in 1995. In 1997 he switched to Cofidis. For this team he became
4th in the Tour de France of 1998 where he won the mountains jersey as well. In
the end of 2001 he had to leave Cofidis due to poor results and he rode 4 years
for 2 smaller French teams (Oktos and RAGT) before switching to Saunier in 2006.
Christophe is a rider for the rankings in stage races and can climb well
normally. This year Rinero rode among others Paris-Nice and the Vuelta Castilla
y Leon but without any good results so far. In the Tour of Georgia he will be a
helper and maybe he can show his climbing legs again to ride a great stage to
And last but not least the sport director in Georgia, Matteo Algeri. Matteo is born on 15 May 1976. Before he became sport director he was a
professional rider himself. From 1999 to 2001 he rode for Lampre where his dad,
Pietro Algeri, was one of the sport directors. Now Matteo and Pietro are both
sport directors of Saunier Duval together with Joxean Fernandez “Matxin” and
Sabino Angoitia. Team Manager is Mauro Gianetti.
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