CSC WORKING HARD TO FORGET BASSO
CSC ended their 2006 season with a complicated divorce from team leader Ivan Basso but intend to carry on as if nothing happened in 2007.
The CSC team for 2007 includes Paris-Roubaix winner Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, Dave Zabriskie, Frank Schleck and Carlos Sastre and will be looking for success in every major race as they attempt to win the ProTour team title for a third consecutive year. New riders include Argentinean sprinter JJ Haedo and talented young Australian Matt Goss.
Team manager Bjarne Riis was criticised by the way he reacted to Basso being implicated in Operacion Puerto and then suffered the humiliation of losing his star rider to rivals Discovery Channel, but is trying to avoid the past by looking forward.
“Everybody in the team knows Ivan is no longer around but our focus hasn’t changed,” Riis insisted during a press conference at the team’s training camp in Gilroy, California on Thursday.
“Ivan is one of the best riders in the world but our team isn’t weaker because he’s left. We proved the strength of our team last year by winning lots of races and I think we’ll again have a lot of cards to play. The only change might be a lesser focus on the Giro but I don’t think anyone will be bothered about that.”
“We’re still riding the Tour de France to win it even if some of the riders will have more space to ride for themselves. I think that’s one of the strengths of this team: we can win any race and make sure every ride has a chance of winning. That’s one of our goals and is why we’ve won the ProTour team title for the last two years.”
CSC have been training in the quiet town of Gilroy for two weeks, mixing seven-hour rides with specific workouts in the hills. On Thursday Frank Schleck won the final test ride on a seven-mile climb, finishing a few seconds ahead of his younger brother Andy and Carlos Sastre. Schleck is expected to share the team leadership with Sastre in the Tour de France after winning on L’Alpe d’Huez in 2006 and will also focus on the hilly spring classics.
The team have been reprimanded by local police for peeing in public and lost Kurt-Asle Arvesen after a crash but Riis is confident his riders will competitive, starting with the Tour of California that starts in San Francisco on Sunday.
The CSC team for the week-long stage race will include US riders Bobby Julich, Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vandevelde, world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, Stuart O’Grady and JJ Haedo.