Looking forward to 2017 on the road
With New Year just a hop, skip and a jump away, we’re starting to look toward the 2017 road cycling season with bubbling anticipation. While we amateur cyclists settle into our winter routines driven by willpower and fear of loss of fitness, professional riders all over Europe and the world are beginning their preparation for another racing season, newly laid targets fresh in their minds with strict plans in place in order to meet them. These are the five things we are particularly excited about at Specialized:
New look peloton
Despite the never-ending excitement of the racing, much of the 2016 season has been run through with speculation as to what the peloton will look like next year. With the departure of both Tinkoff and IAM Cycling, there has been a massive reshuffle, with many of the biggest names moving into new colours for 2017. The new Bahrain-Merida team is lighting up imaginations everywhere, but it is Peter Sagan’s move to Bora-Hansgrohe (formerly Bora Argon18) and the team’s subsequent (inevitable) promotion to World Tour classification that we are most excited about. The World Champion has taken Specialized with him as the team’s main sponsor, and built a formidable team around him that promises big things come January.
Few can deny that the Spring Classics were designed for Specialized bikes and their riders. The two teams which will be riding Specialized will be Quick-Step Floors (Etixx – Quick-Step) and Bora-Hansgrohe. These are two teams bursting with Classics specialists, suited to both cobbles and climbs, including Peter Sagan, Tom Boonen, Dan Martin, Julian Alaphilippe and Philippe Gilbert. And with the new and improved Specialized Roubaix introduced for 2017, we can’t wait to see what the pros can do in the spring.
Tom Boonen’s last hurrah
The uncontested King of the Classics (now that Cancellara has retired) has promised that he will be retiring following Paris-Roubaix next April. After an agonisingly close second to Australian Mathew Hayman in 2016, Boonen will be hoping to make good on his target of five Paris-Roubaix trophies. We can of course take nothing for granted; Paris-Roubaix is a fickle friend to even the best of cobbled warriors, but we can’t wait to see what Boonen can achieve in his last (half) season as a pro.
Young GC hopes
Specialized’s season does not end after the classics, though. As young Quick-Step riders have proven in recent years, their general classification potential is not to be sniffed at. Alaphilippe rode his Tarmac into the yellow jersey at the Tour of California, Bob Jungels wore the white jersey all the way to Milan at the Giro (after a brief stint in pink) and the young Spaniard David De La Cruz took a maiden pro win on stage 9 of the Vuelta, winning a day in red at his home grand tour, eventually finishing 7th overall. Let’s not forget Dan Martin’s fine form at the Tour de France where he finished ninth. The team’s general classification hopes for 2017 are not to be sniffed at.
Can Peter Sagan better 2016?
Finally, how could we finish without a nod to back-to-back world champion, Peter Sagan? The charismatic Slovakian reclaimed the rainbow bands at the chaotic World Championship Road Race in Doha, Qatar, surprising everyone, including himself. This marked the end of a stellar season which has included the points classifications at Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of California, Eneco Tour and Tour de France (five in a row), Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and a flurry of stage wins at stage races. Let’s not forget his wistful return to his roots to ride in the MTB race at the Olympics. The World Champion will be racing for a new team in 2017 and we can’t wait to see what he can do. Can he improve of 2016?
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