As the days tick down to the start of An Post Rás on Sunday 20th May, the Swiss pro (UCI Continental) team, Atlas Personal – Jakroo, has confirmed they will ride in the big 8 day international cycle race. The Swiss outfit join teams from Britain, Denmark, France and New Zealand, already announced to compete against each other.
The five riders selected by the team management should be in optimum shape as they are currently on a programme of races to prepare specifically for the Rás.
Swiss rider Pirmin Lang (23) and the 27 year old Frenchman, Nicolas Baldo will be the protected riders, having performed well in the past. Lang won the 1.2-ranked Antwerpse Havenpijl last year and was also fifth on a stage of the Tour of China (2.1). Baldo rode well in
the 2010 Rhône-Alpes Isère Tour, netting second on a stage and in the overall classification, and also finished second on a stage there in 2011. His runner-up slots also include one in the 2010 La Roue Tourangelle. Those near-misses will sharpen his determination to pick up a win in Ireland.
“Our team captains will be Pirmin Lang and Nicolas Baldo,” said the German Florian Salzinger, who is both a rider on the team and involved in bringing the team to Ireland to race.
“Our main goal will be a place in the top five in the general classification. The An Post Rás will be very important for us, especially in the hilly stages. We always want to be in the breakaway and race well and aggressively.”
The 30 year old Salzinger is a past winner of the sprint classification in the Tour of Alsace and will aim to get involved in the bunch finishes in Ireland.
Two Swiss riders complete the team: Jonathan Fumeaux (24), who last year won a stage of the 2.2 Chantal Biya and was also a strong ninth in the 1.1-ranked GP Plumelec. Bernhard Oberholzer, two years older, who is four times Swiss track pursuit champion, took wins in Unversiade and Gippingen last year and was third on a stage of the 2.2 Cintron Mallorca.
The quintet have a good programme of events to prepare for the race, with the 2.2-ranked Tour de Bretagne, the 1.1 GP Larciano and Giro dell Toscana and the Fleche du Sud (2.2) all part of the build up.
“With some successful riders and a number of very good races before the An Post Rás, it looks likely that the Switzerland Atlas Personal – Jakroo team will have a strong part to play in this year’s An Post Rás,” said race director Dermot Dignam.
“We are looking forward to seeing the five riders competing on Irish soil, along with the strong foreign teams already announced thus far.”
The 2012 An Post Rás will be the sixtieth edition of Ireland’s toughest cycling event.
It will begin on Sunday May 20th with a stage from Dunboyne to Kilkenny, and will continue with finishes in Gort, Westport, Bundoran, Buncrana, Killybegs, Cootehill and Skerries.
It will total almost 1200 kilometres and will feature strong international professional and national teams from Europe and further afield.