Fresh off its victory in the team classification last Sunday at the Volta ao Alentejo in Portugal, the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team lines up Monday in Italy for the Giro Belvedere di Villa di Cordignano.
The 78th edition of the one day race, often referred to as the "Easter Monday Classic," features more than three dozen teams of five riders each. The 154-kilometer race is split into two parts: 11 laps of a 12 km course featuring a kilometer-long climb, followed by two laps of a 17.3 km course that includes two steep climbs of 1.7 and 0.5 kms.
Axeon Hagens Berman's Logan Owen rode last year in support of teammate and eventual third-place finisher Geoffrey Curran. While Curran is not part of this year's roster, Owen and British teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart are – and the pair finished sixth and 11th overall, respectively, in Portugal.
"My form was not nearly as good last year as it is this year, which is a confidence booster heading in," Owen said. "I know I can make the front group on the climbs and hopefully give our team another option to play in the finale."
Joining Geoghegan Hart and Owen will be Ruben Guerreiro of Portugal, Latvian Under 23 national road champion Krists Neilands and American Will Barta.
"We have a really strong team heading into this race and I know between Ruben, Tao, Will, Krists and me, we can pull off a great result," Owen said.
Axeon Hagens Berman General Manager Axel Merckx will direct the team.
"I was not at this race last year but it seems like it was a pretty select group that reached the finish," he said. "It is very hard because there only five riders per team. You can't control things. You just have to be there at the right time and hopefully, if there is a breakaway that goes, you have someone in it."
Merckx said he already likes what he has seen of the resilience of the team.
"After the unfortunate start we had in Portugal with the crashes and illnesses, the team stuck together and raced as a group," he said. "They helped each other out at the hard moments and still managed to do well overall, particularly in the team general classification. It shows the depth and strength of the team is there. Now we will try to get some wins and top three results."
Riders: Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR), Ruben Guerreiro (POR), Krists Neilands (LAT), Logan Owen (USA), Will Barta (USA). Sport Director: Axel Merckx (BEL).