There will be no easing into the first European campaign for Team TIBCO/To the Top; no "warm-up" races. Instead, the team will open its roughly six-week block of European racing with one of the monuments of cycling, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, or Tour of Flanders.
"Yes, this is a big race with which to open our spring European campaign, but I'm not concerned about the riders being ready for it," said the team's European directeur sportif Chris Georgas. "Everyone on the roster has had experience racing against top competition in Europe, either with their previous trade teams or on their national teams. They all know what it takes to make an impact here."
Ruth Corset, in her first race with Team TIBCO/To the Top, will be one of the team's leaders for the race. The Australian National Road Champion showed last weekend at the first World Cup race, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, that her form is there for Flanders.
"Ruth took a fantastic 4th place last weekend in the first world cup," notes Georgas. "The final selection for that race was small and elite and she was right there in the mix."
Corset will be joined by all-around strongwoman Joanne Kiesanowski and 2008 U.S. Road and Criterium Champion Brooke Miller, who are both showing strong early season form. Both riders have also participated in previous editions of Flanders.
Australian Emma Mackie also brings a wealth of European experience to the squad after spending the past four season racing full-time there. More importantly, she has proven to be a tireless worker and was key to Corset's Australian national championship victory.
"Riders like Emma, as well as Devon (Haskell) and Megan (Guarnier) are critical to the team's success here," Georgas said. "One rider can't win here. It takes a full team effort, and I'm confident that every rider on this squad can and will contribute Sunday, and with the races that come after."
Not only will the Ronde van Vlaanderen be Corset's first race with a full squad from Team TIBCO/To the Top, it will be the first chance for her to display her new Voler-designed Australian National Champion's jersey.
Team TIBCO/To the Top for the Ronde van Vlaanderen, April 4, 2010:
Ruth Corset, AUS
Megan Guarnier, USA
Devon Haskell, USA
Joanne Kiesanowski, NZL
Emma Mackie, AUS
Brooke Miller, USA