One year after he won the opening stage of the An Post Rás, Marcin Bialoblocki has been confirmed as leading the Team UK Youth squad for the upcoming edition of the An Post Rás.
The Polish rider triumphed into Kilkenny and then went on to place second on two stages, third on another and to take second in the points classification. He was also a fine sixth overall.
That performance built on his 2011 display when he won a very aggressively-raced stage six into Tramore.
He will be joined by Rob Partridge, who finished sixth overall in 2010, and who was eighth in the Tour of Britain the same year.
The 2012 Tour of Brittany mountains jersey winner will share leadership with Bialoblocki, and the duo will be supported by James Lowsley-Williams, Richard Tanguy and Josh Hunt, the younger brother of former World Tour pro Jeremy Hunt. Stage wins and the general classification will once again be the target for the squad.
Also returning are the IG Sigma Sport team, which includes the Irish rider Peter Hawkins and the Briton Pete Williams, who was second overall in 2010. He also took the sprints jersey in last year's Tour of Britain, showing his quality.
Hawkins won a stage of last year’s Tour of the North and later finished sixth on stage three of the 2012 Tour of Britain.
He was also the runner up slot at last year's Tour of the Reservoir. According to team manager Becky Frewing he has big ambitions.
Frewing said: “Peter believes he can win overall and we will obviously look at stage wins too.”
The overall 2012 Tour of the North winner James Moss will likely travel, while the line-up will be completed by two out of Matt Cronshaw, Joe Perrett or Wouter Sybrandy.
A total of four teams have been confirmed today, adding to the seven which have previously been announced. In addition to the UK Youth and IG Sigma Sport teams mentioned above, the line-up will also include the Node4 Girodana team, which will be managed by former Vuelta a España points classification winner Malcom Elliott.
Elliott said that the team is yet to be finalised but will almost certainly include last year¹s Tour of Southland victor and New Zealand criterium champion Mike Northey. “We are aiming to ride for GC, with Mike as leader,” said Elliott. “We also want to gain valuable stage race experience.”
“The Rás has always been one of the least predictable races there are, so being on alert to seize every opportunity is vital.”
The remaining four places will be drawn from the list of former Tour series sprints winner Steve Lampier, past Ras Mumhan runner-up Christian Varley, 2012 New Zealand road race champion James Williamson, the 2011 Tour du Montsalvy victor Nathan Edmondson, New Zealand points race champion Shem Rodger and 2012 Tour of Southland prologue victor Dan Barry.
The fourth of the teams confirmed today is the Scottish national team. Climbing specialist Alex Coutts is one to watch, as is the ever-aggressive An Post Rás rider Evan Olliphant. The five man squad will be completed by Michael Nicolson, Ben Greenwood and Liam Cowie.
"The latest list of teams further raises the quality of this year’s An Post Rás, and join the strong squads already announced,” said race director Tony Campbell.
“Those in the squads confirmed today include riders who have previously fought for the yellow jersey, have won stages and have placed very highly overall. They have the ability and also the experience to be big threats this year.”