The Great Britain men’s under 23 Academy team make their debut on the road in Italy on Sunday in the Trofeo ZSSDI race near Trieste.
Seven of the nine riders selected for the 2009 Academy arrived at their base in Tuscany on Thursday and are ready to kick of their road race season.
Academy veterans Alex Dowsett, Russell Hampton and Jonny McEvoy are joined by Erick Rowsell, Andrew Fenn, Luke Rowe and Mark Christian. Pete Kennaugh and Steve Burke are also part of the 2009 Academy but will join their team mates on the road after the track world championships at the end of the month.
It will be the first time the Academy team competes in the Trofeo ZSSDI and will mark the road race debut for Rowsell, Fenn, Rowe and Christian as part of the under 23 Academy. However all have European race experience from their time on the Junior Olympic Development programme and have the talent to take on the many Italian and Slovenian in the race.
Max Sciandri will call the tactics from the Great Britain team car after taking over the Academy from Rod Ellingworth.
TRAINING WITH BRITISH PROFESSIONALS
The Academy riders went out training with the growing number of British professionals based in Tuscany on Thursday, doing three hours to test their legs after flying from Britain.
?Everyone?s up for it. It?s our first race of the season and so we?re all pretty excited,? Alex Dowsett told Cycling Weekly.
?We?ve all had a long winter of training and so we?re ready to get going. Our first few races will be to find out feet and test our form but we won?t hold back if we get a chance.?
?My form is good but I felt a bit rough after flying to Italy on Thursday. We?ll see how we feel on Sunday and then decide our tactics with Max.?
A total of 200 riders will take part in the 141km race organised by the Slovenian sports club in the northeast corner of Italy. The race starts with a 90km loop between Trieste and Gorizia and ends with three laps of a testing finishing circuit before the climb up the finish.
Former winners include current world champion Alessandro Ballan and the finishing circuit includes a fast descent and a twisting climb before a slight descent to the finish.