IAM cycling

Matteo Pelucchi wins stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico

IAM Cycling has had a great start for the Tirreno-Adriatico 2014. Stage 1 yesterday (TTT) was a solid performance by the whole team. IAM Cycling crossed the finish line having an average speed of 52,7 km/h losing 50 seconds to the winning team. After the stage I spoke briefly with Kjell Carlström and congratulated about a solid performance. Kjell was pleased with the performance, but said that they have room for improvement. I also asked about stage 2, would that be a stage for Pelucchi and is he in good shape. With a smile he gave me a short answer and stated that Pelucchi is in okay form but will face a hard competition.

IAM Cycling on stage 1 (picture from iamcycling.ch)

IAM Cycling on stage 1 (picture from iamcycling.ch)

Matteo Pelucchi (picture from iamcycling.ch)

Matteo Pelucchi (picture from iamcycling.ch)

And today Matteo Pelucchi did just that, he won the stage 2 with a really outstanding performance in the last 100 m. The last kilometers were really hectic and with just 10 kilometers to go we saw a crash in the peloton. Fortunately IAM Cycling was already well positioned at that time. I had the chance to talk to Kjell after the stage and this was also the plan for IAM Cycling, to be positioned somewhere close to the front well before the finish line. "We had discussed the importance of being in front and the guys executed it perfectly". With just less than 3 km to go we also saw Kittel go down. I asked about if these are situations that you as a sports director inform the team about. "It was not necessary at that point to inform the riders, even if a stage winner favorite goes down, it's up to the riders to do what they do best and to focus on their own thing. Especially that close to the finish, you don't want to confuse the riders".

There were several teams trying to build up a leadout train, but all of those attempts were unsuccessful. It was almost chaotic at times, as it tends to be close to the finish line at a sprint stage. At a point it looked as if IAM Cycling riders could be trapped on the left side of the bunch. I asked how IAM Cycling had planned the last km and if they tried to do a leadout for Pelucchi. "A leadout was not our intention, we wanted to bring Pelucchi to a good position for the final sprint, and they riders performed exactly as we had planned. Sprints are always hectic and one moment you can be trapped and a second later you might find a perfect gap to break through for a sprint. When it comes to the final kilometer and meters it's all about your instincts and trying to feel how your legs are and to decide when to launch your sprint. We've been close many times this year, but today we finally got all those pieces right".

Crossing the finish line (picture from http://www.iamcycling.ch/)

Crossing the finish line (picture from http://www.iamcycling.ch/)

Watching the final 100 m on TV, one could see that Pelucchi first had to move sideways from left to right and then round Greipel from the right side. He actually tracked more meters than many other riders in the final 100 m. According to Carlström there was a slight headwind and Pelucchi managed to time his sprint perfectly taking advantage of Greipel's rear wheel. A solid performance by a young sprinter. "It was really well done by Pelucchi and the whole team leading Pelucchi to a such a great position. And of course a great honor to win in front of the home crowd, taking his first big victory in Italy. At the same time it is a big moment for the whole IAM Cycling team, winning on this level". 

You can read an interview and reactions by Matteo Pelucchi himself on IAM Cycling website. This victory he dedicates to Kristof Goddaert.

“This victory is for you, Kristof.  I gave everything I had to have this chance to dedicate a win to you up there, from where you are looking down and watching us.”-Matteo Pelucchi - IAM Cycling website

"This victory is for Kristof" (picture from http://www.iamcycling.ch/)

"This victory is for Kristof" (picture from http://www.iamcycling.ch/)

Tomorrow is a new day of racing, but after such a great victory I assumed the team will celebrate the win somehow. "Yes, the riders will have a glass of wine at dinner, but tomorrow will be a new and a hard day in the saddle so no more than that."

About stage 3, how is IAM Cycling targeting that, another stage win tomorrow? "It will be a hard day and the final short hill is really hard. Of course we have several cards to play now, but it will be hard. There might also be a chance for a breakaway tomorrow, if a group of 8-10 riders can build up a breakaway that could go all the way. Of course we will look out for those. But for the final sprint, if there's no breakaway we can have Haussler, Elmiger and maybe Pelucchi to go for it".

So tomorrow will be really interesting. IAM Cycling has now achieved at least one of their goals set up, taking a stage win. A good TTT performance was another, maybe that's already two goals achieved? You can read about the other goals in the previous interview with Kjell Carlström here

So stay tuned for stage 3 tomorrow, live at 14:30 CET on Eurosport. And hopefully we will see some more great performance by IAM Cycling. 


IAM Cycling - before start of Tirreno-Adriatico 2014

Picture from www.iamcycling.ch

Picture from www.iamcycling.ch

Tomorrow it begins, the 2014 edition of Tirreno-Adriatico "race of the two seas". Together with Paris-Nice it is one of the first really big stage races in Europe for the season. As a fan of this race I'm really looking forward for it to begin. I had the opportunity to talk to Kjell Carlström before the start of Tirreno-Adriatico. This year Carlström is directeur sportif for IAM Cycling together with Marcello Albasini and the expectations are set pretty high.

Picture from www.iamcycling.ch

Picture from www.iamcycling.ch

Teams for Tirreno-Adriatico together with Paris-Nice can be built up by grand tour cyclists targeting Giro d'Italia or Tour de France, but for IAM Cycling the team is built up differently: 

"Our riders consist, for both Paris-Nice and Tirreno, of classics riders, preparing them for upcoming classics as well as GC riders. In Tirreno we also can target some sprints. For us the goal is not to prepare the riders for Giro or the Tour."

Having names such as Haussler and Löfkvist in the lineup, IAM Cycling is a strong team. According to Carlström the team is able to perform well and maybe even surprise some of us watchers, but the main focus is on doing a good race and sticking to the game plan. Even if there are really strong teams and cyclists around, IAM Cycling will not focus on them.

"Our goal for Tirreno is to do a good team time trial, win a stage and have one rider in the top 10 GC. I'm satisfied if we fulfill these goals and I do believe we can hit it".

The weather for Tirreno this year seems to be rather good, and Carlström does not believe weather conditions will play a great role this year.

"Even if there can be windy sections along the coast, I don't believe it will affect the outcome too much. Probably it can reduce the amount of riders in the peloton, but nothing significant".

Tirreno-Adriatico this year has plenty of time trials. The race begins and ends with a time trial. Stage 1 will be a team time trial and the last stage an individual time trial. In grand tours we've seen time trials have been of key importance for the last few years. As Carlström mentioned, a good team time trial will be important for the team. 

"We've done a couple of extra training days here in Italy and several TTT-specific workouts with the team. We've also ridden the TTT stage several times with the team in order to find the best tactics and technique for the route". 

Cycling in Italy often means cycling in the mountains, Tirreno is no exception. Stage 4 and 5 will be stages for climbers. IAM Cycling has not been doing any specific training for these stages but Carlström admits the latter part of stage 5 with a climb up to Passo Lanciano and an uphill finish will be really hard. Looking at the lineups and the route of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico, there is according to me no doubt that it is a harder race than the Paris-Nice and Kjell Carlström feels the same.  "I agree to 100%".  There are many strong teams and riders, Richie Porte, Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), Michele Scarponi (Astana Pro Team), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), Peter Sagan and Ivan Basso (Cannondale), Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) just a few to mention. No doubt this will be a great race.

The results so far this season has not been the best for IAM Cycling, but Carlström states that it has still been okay. "Most of the cyclist are building form and are close to reaching the first top form for this year, so we can really expect good things to happen now".

Looking at the IAM Cycling lineup for Tirreno-Adriatico and especially Haussler, Löfkvist and Elmiger one could say they do have a slight positive upswing in results and shape even if they, according to me could still have done more. Carlström admits that this is partly true.

"You might be right with that, but then a little luck could have changed a lot. Many of our riders have shown really good training results, but of course races are races and many things needs to go right in order to win."

As a final question to Kjell Carlström, I wanted him to describe the team IAM Cycling we will see in the Tirreno-Adriatico 2014.

"A really tight team working well together and a team that will fight well against a hard competition"

Tomorrow we will see the first stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico 2014 and the race will be broadcasted by Eurosport starting at 14:30 CET each race day. 

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