Larry Warbasse wants to ‘help Ben O’Connor make the Giro d’Italia podium’

Different but the same: US racer Larry Warbasse is targeting a return to the Giro d’Italia for a sixth time in his career this May, but the Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale team worker and breakaway specialist will have a new goal this year, to help teammate Ben O’Connor make it onto the final podium.

Currently taking part in the Volta a Catalunya, Warbasse is bound for an altitude training camp then the Tour of the Alps before the first Grand Tour of the season, the American told Cycling News.

He’s been part of Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale since 2019 and raced the Italian Grand Tour every May bar one since then, but it will be with a different perspective and series of goals, most notably because of O’Connor’s GC bid.

At the same time, Warbasse has been an active participant in the team’s notable boost in results this spring, with a total of six wins to date tripling their total of two at the same point in the 2023 season.

“I think having the new sponsor, Decathlon coming in, has brought a fresh motivation to the team and everyone is excited,” Warbasse told Cycling News at the Volta a Catalunya.

“That started a good cycle, everybody is really happy and likes the equipment and the bikes, the engineers were at the training camps, sponsors have been really present, and there’s good momentum.

“Then everyone has been going quite well from the gun and when you see all your friends winning, you think ‘I can do it too’. It starts the ball rolling and, hopefully, we can keep it rolling here, too.”

Warbasse is realistic about what he thinks O’Connor can do against Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), whom he describes as a “favourite who is head and shoulders above the rest”.

“But I don’t think Ben is that far behind in terms of being a second favourite and that’s great for us,” he added.

“I think we’d be pretty happy if he gets on the podium. Ben’s flying and is super motivated, and we have a great team to support him. I’m not sure if we’ll be challenging our friend Tadej for the top step, but there are always openings, stage wins, other opportunities…”

Warbasse himself is not ruling out goals and objectives, although he admits that it has been a long time since he won his last race, back in 2017 at the US Pro Road Nationals. He is keeping the faith that his chance will come round again, though, and breakaways are definitely the best way for him to make his mark.

But the opportunity to support a rider getting onto a podium at a Grand Tour, too, is another big career goal, he told Cycling News, and this year it could finally happen.

“So far this year, I’ve been performing really well as a teammate. I’ve done my job well and been there deep in the race, so that’s what I would like to go on doing,” he said.

“If we can get on the podium with Ben – I’ve never been part of a team in a Grand Tour podium – that’d be really cool. Plus if somewhere along the line I can be sneaking in a breakaway and going for a nice stage win, well, that’d be a dream season.”

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
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