In an interview in the March issue of Cycle Sport magazine, Jonathan Vaughters said he thinks the “functional performance” of his Garmin-Barracuda team will be even higher than in past years.
That’s quite a bold statement about the squad — maybe even bolder when you consider that Garmin-Barracuda must compete with the massive budget super-teams like BMC and RadioShack-Nissan Trek.
According to Vaughters, the underdog role suits his riders well. “They are guys right there, scratching at the front door and that makes them hungrier,” he told Cycle Sport.
You can start with Ryder Hesjedal. The front door he’s going to scratch at — and hopefully knock down — is this year’s Giro d’Italia. He’ll be Garmin’s top gun in Italy.
“The Giro is the main objective for me,” Hesjedal told Cyclingnews. “The team has given me the opportunity and the challenge of riding the GC in the Giro. They think the race suits me and I think that too. There’s a heavy last half in the mountains and I think I’ve shown that I get my best legs towards the end of a race. This gives me an excellent platform heading into the Tour de France.”
He’ll be supported by Christian Vande Velde who will ride the Giro to prepare for the Tour de France. Tom Danielson, who finished in the top ten in France last season, continues to be the wild card but chances are, he’ll line up in Liege for this year’s Grande Boucle.
That means the Giro belongs to the Canadian but he’s not making any predictions about a podium. “I’m not really thinking about that mindset but the team think I can push high on the GC. I’m not going to fixate on a result or a number, I’m just focussed on the work I need to do. I want to be up there, I know what it feels like to be in the single digits on GC and it’s a nice feeling,”
There’s a hunger at Garmin-Barracuda and you can always count on the team for a few surprises. “What we do is challenging and interesting and unpredictable,” said Vaughters. We get to pull out some surprises like Johan Van Summeren winning Paris-Roubaix. When you wear argyle, anything can happen and usually does.
Last year, Garmin put together their strongest performance in France with Tyler Farrar winning his first tour stage and Thor Hushovd taking two stages and wearing the yellow jersey. Perhaps 2012 will be the year they crack the Giro.
So put Ryder Hesjedal down as a possible surprise in Italy in May. Coming from Garmin, that wouldn’t be a huge shock.