Six riders from the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team fill USA Cycling's Under 23 team roster for the Olympia's Tour, which begins Tuesday in The Netherlands.
The six-day, seven-stage race includes a pair of time trials. An 18.9-kilometer team time trial opens the race and a 15.3-km individual time trial is part of a double-stage day on Thursday.
"I think the time trials favor us," USA Cycling U23 General Manager Michael Sayers said. "We did a solid day of team time trial training Saturday and some on Sunday. We have a solid individual time trial team, so I think that will favor us."
The time trial specialists on the roster include USA Cycling Pro Road Tour runner-up Neilson Powless, who has won two races against the clock this year. Joining him is U.S. national U23 time trial champion Geoffrey Curran and Greg Daniel, the U.S. national road champion.
Daniel will be racing for the first time since breaking his collarbone at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.
"I feel my form is good and my preparation has been good leading up to these races so I am very excited to be back competing," the 21-year-old said. "I had a good break after the surgery, so mentally and I believe physically, I am ready."
Curran, who is also the national U23 road champion, said he enjoys racing in The Netherlands, especially since he will be familiar with the last two days of the race.
"I know the courses there because Limburg is near USA Cycling's service course," he said. "Racing in Holland is always pretty hard and fast and nice and flat. I like putting out a lot of power and just going. So if you are not good, you are going to get found out quickly. Plus, you get to see a lot of the guys you will be racing against at the world championships in Qatar."
Joining Curran, Daniel and Powless is Will Barta, Tour of Alberta stage winner Colin Joyce and U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Logan Owen.
Sayers said there will be some good sprinters on hand, which should force other teams to control the road stages.
"Our goal will be to keep everyone safe and health as we approach the world championships," he said. "I am sure some of the local teams will be interested in winning the GC (general classification), so we will leave that to them."
Axeon Hagens Berman will be well-represented at the UCI world road championships next month in Qatar.
All six riders who will represent the United States in the Under 23 races are from the Axeon Hagens Berman roster. Adrien Costa, Geoffrey Curran, Greg Daniel, Colin Joyce, Justin Oien and Neilson Powless will compete in the road race while Curran and Powless will also race the individual time trial. Curran is the reigning U23 national road and time trial champion while Daniel is the professional national road champion.
Irish national U23 time trial champion Eddie Dunbar will also compete in both the time trial and the road race while national U23 road champion Tao Geoghegan Hart will represent Greg Britain in the road race and could be selected to compete in the time trial. Krists Neilands, Latvia's national U23 road and time trial champion, will race both of those events.
While races as a team are complete for the season for Axeon Hagens Berman, several riders continue to compete regularly for their national squads.
On Sunday, Krists Neilands teamed with fellow Latvian Eriks Toms Gabvars to finish 12th in Duo Normand, a two-man team time trial in France won by Luke Durbridge and Svein Tuft of ORICA-BikeExchange. Earlier this month, Neilands placed 13th in the road race at the U23 European Championships.
Tuesday, Tao Geoghegan Hart will compete at Route d'Oro, a one-day semi-classic in Italy. Earlier this month, the 21-year-old placed ninth in the individual time trial at the U23 European Championships.
Eddie Dunbar was Axeon Hagens Berman's best-placed rider at the U23 European Championships. The 20-year-old finished sixth for Ireland in the individual time trial. Next up for him is travel to Mallorca, Spain, to join the Irish national team for a pre-worlds training camp.
To date, Axeon Hagens Berman riders have won a team-record 33 races this season, including 16 on the UCI level and seven national championships.
Through the first nine years of the program headed by former Olympian and Belgian national road champion Axel Merckx, a total of 21 riders have advanced on to the WorldTour ranks.
The latest three to make the jump for the 2017 season are Greg Daniel and Ruben Guerreiro to Trek-Segafredo and Tao Geoghegan Hart to Team Sky.
(Header photo provided by USA Cycling.)