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“I think that it will be easier for him in the one-day races like the Ardennes classics. Then it depends on how he gets out of the Tour but the Olympics could be within his reach."

Photo: Sirotti

DIEGO ULISSI

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LOUIS MEINTJES

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MATEJ MOHORIC

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RUI ALBERTO FARIA DA COSTA

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SACHA MODOLO

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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YUKIYA ARASHIRO

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10.11.2015 @ 15:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Satisfied with the balance of 2015, Brent Copeland is finalizing the details for 2016 and will set things in stone in December. The 43-year old South African was appointed a team manager at Lampre-Merida two years ago and has had a successful time as leader of Italy’s only WorldTour team.

 

Copeland is a former rider and worked as sports director for the blue-fuchsia-green team from 1999 until he spent three years in Moto GP from 2010 and 2013. He joined MTN-Qhubeka where he helped Gerald Ciolek win Milan-Sanremo and at the end of 2013 he took over the manager role in his current team.

 

The multilingual South Afican who speaks very good Italian too, made it clear that the 2016 calendar of his riders are not yet defined and that the details will be finalized at a training camp in Boario Terme in the province of Brescia from November 20 to December 3. He hopes to continue the upward trend that saw his team win 26 races in 2014 and 29 races in 2015, including seven grand tour stages.
 

"I'm satisfied because our victories were achieved by 15 different riders. We are a team,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “But I can say that it would be better if we had won a bit more with Rui Costa.

 

"From him we expected some of the most important victories (he won two races, a stage in the Dauphiné and the national title, ed.) but he was has always 3rd, 4th or 5th. He was always there."

 

Costa enjoyed a career highlight when he won the Worlds in Florence in 2013 but has been unable to reach similar heights at Lampre-Merida.

 

"During the last two years, we have worked on doing GCs in stage races with him,“ Copeland said. “I think that it will be easier for him in the one-day races like the Ardennes classics. Then it depends on how he gets out of the Tour but the Olympics could be within his reach. He'll do Oman and Paris- Nice. We must decide what he will do in between the Ardennes and the Tour: the Dauphine or the Tour of Switzerland.”

 

While Costa failed to be prolific winner, the season was a big success for lead sprinter Sacha Modolo who ended the season on a high with an overall victory in the Tour of Hainan.
 

"It was an important victory for our sponsors that are Asian (Merida is Taiwanese, ed.),” Copeland said.  "He wants to do two grand tours [in 2016]. We have talked about the Giro and the Tour. It's not easy. But it is also true that the more he rides, the better he is.”
 

Diego Ulissi made his comeback in 2015 after the suspension stemming from his Salbutamol positive from the 2014 Giro d’Italia. Even though he won a stage in the Giro and ended the season well in the Abu Dhabi Tour, he failed to reach his past heights.

 

"Diego gave good signs with the victory in the seventh stage of the Giro,” Copeland said. “At the Worlds and Lombardia, he missed. We want him to focus on the Ardennes and the one-week race. He will begin at the Tour Down Under. Then he can go for a stage in the Giro. "
 

During the transfer season, Lampre-Merida have been investing in young talent by signing Matej Mohoric and Louis Meintjes while Simone Consonni, Edward Ravasi and Filippo Ganna will join the team in 2017. That’s in line with the trend from previous years during which the team has signed several youngsters.

 

"We have focused heavily on the young riders,” Copeland said. "I'm hugely satisfied as our riders have grown quickly. This year we had Jan Polanc (23, winner of the fifth stage of the Giro in Abetone, ed.) and Luka Pibernik (Slovenian national champion, ed.).”

 

Copeland has clear plans for his new signings.

 

“[Meintjes will do] the Ardennes classics and the Tour,” he said. “In the future, the expectation is that he will go for GC in the big stage races.
 

"Mohoric has not showed much since Florence where he won the U23 Worlds. Now he has spent two years at Cannondale and he has grown. He should do the Ardennes and the Giro."
 

Two key signings are Marko Kump who was only surpassed by Alexander Kristoff on the winners’ list in 2015, and Yukiya Arashiro.

 

“Kump really wants to do well,” Copeland said. “He will start in Austria. He could be the second sprinter behind Modolo.

 

"Arashiro is a very serious rider. He will be a good support for Rui Costa and Ulissi in addition to showing his own qualities.”
 

The team may still add another rider to the roster as Rinaldo Nocentini has been rumoured to join the squad.

 

"There was contact, but we have not signed anything,” Copeland said.

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