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"For the flatter stages we have Youcef here as our sprinter, he showed good form in Turkey. For the GC we have some different options with our climbers here but we will have to take the race day by day," Lacambra says

Photo: Unipublic/Graham Watson

LINUS GERDEMANN

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NTT PRO CYCLING TEAM

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SERGIO PARDILLA

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TOUR D’AZERBAIDJAN

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YOUCEF REGUIGUI

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07.05.2014 @ 10:47 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

MTN-Qhubeka will target success with their climbers Linus Gerdemann, Sergio Pardilla, Jacques Van Rensburg and Dennis van Niekerk when they make their first participation in the Tour d'Azerbaidjan. Youcef Reguigui will focus on the flat stages in the 5-day race while Merhawi Kudus won't take the start after fracturing his collarbone in the final stage of  the Tour of Turkey.

 

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s busy race schedule continues with the Tour d’ Azerbaïdjan being the next stop for the African Professional Continental cycling team. Starting on the 7 May, the race will be run over 5 stages and will see riders pass through 838km of Azererbaidjani country side. The race will come to an end with the final stages circuit race in the nation's capital, Baku.

 

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will be taking part in the Tour d’ Azerbaïdjan for the first time as this year the race was upgraded to a UCI 2.1 status. While it will be the first time the team takes part in the event, Youcef Reguigui, the Algerian sprinter, won the inaugural edition of this tour back in 2012. Reguigui will return to Azerbaïdjan this year along with Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Dennis van Niekerk, Johann van Zyl, Sergio Pardilla and Linus Gerdemann to make up the Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung team.

 

"It is always nice to be racing in these countries where cycling is not very common yet,"  Directeur Sportif Manel Lacambra said. "We know perfectly well what this means because of where our team comes from. It is great that we can contribute to the globalization of world cycling by showing the African colours in this unique race.

 

"Tour d’ Azerbaidjan has 2 stages that suit the sprinters and 2 which are better for the climbers and another stage that can go either way. Stage 4 will be the big stage for the climbers and will probably decide the final GC.

 

"The most difficult aspect of this race will be how to control the race with teams of just 6 riders and with the strong wind that we expect to have the whole week.  We believe we have a strong team here though and we hope for a top result.

 

"For the flatter stages we have Youcef here as our sprinter, he showed good form in Turkey. For the GC we have some different options with our climbers here but we will have to take the race day by day."

 

Stage 1 - Baku > Sumqayit (154km)
A definite stage for the sprinters with the final 50km’s being contested over 5 laps of 10km’s each through the streets of Sumqayit.

 

Stage 2 - Baku > Ismayilli (187km)
An undulating route where we expect strong winds to affect the race. It is likely that riders will arrive at the finish in a number of small groups.

 

Stage 3 – Qabala > Qabala (180km)
An out and back route with a few climbs in the middle of the stage to soften the peloton up for the long gradual rise to the finish. There is a chance a break could make it if the 6 rider teams don’t cooperate all that well, otherwise a sprint for the strong men will be likely.

 

Stage 4 – Qabala > Pirqulu (115km)
The queen stage that will end with a HC categorised climb. There are 2 categorised climbs before the summit finish that will also ensure that the races strongest climbers will contest the stage.

 

Stage 5 – Baku > Baku (202km)
The longest stage of the race comes to an end with 6 laps of a 13.6km circuit which will include short sharp climb a short cobble road section too. A reduced bunch is expected to contest for the stage in a sprint.

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