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Last Post 02/03/2010 12:54 PM by Steve Jones. 1 Replies.
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01/31/2010 05:38 PM
I'm a bit torn over what's happening to Italy's number-two team. I'm eager for a spot to open in the ProTour. Should one open, there will obviously be several applicants. BMC has specifically stated their ambitions to reach "division one" as it were. Bbox and Cofidis would obviously have to be quite close to securing ProTour licenses, given that they used to have them. Obviously, though, I'd be pulling for Cervelo to get it. They applied for ProTour status before last season and while they didn't get it, they've proven a successful team on the road, and stable financially.

But Lampre isn't the first team I'd have wanted to see forced from the sport, which reportedly will happen if they don't firm up their ProTour non-compliances before March 31. That'd probably be Milram, actually, who haven't seemed to accomplish much of anything in recent years and seem likely to fold after this season anyway (the team's title sponsors are departing after this season, and who wants to step up to sponsor a team who doesn't win very often).

It's a bit shocking to think of the notable riders on the team who would be out of a job should the team fold. Cunego would land on his feet - he is, after all, still only 28, vastly overrated though he is. As far as Petacchi (and Hondo) and Simoni, though, I'm less sure. Petacchi is 36, and though he seemed to be on top of his game last year (he was one of only three riders to beat Mark Cavendish in a field sprint in 2009), I can't imagine 36-year-old sprinters will be in much demand three months into the season. Simoni is 38 and took forever to find a team this offseason, only signing with Lampre after he made it clear that the Giro d'Italia would be his last race of the season (and therefore career). I don't expect he'll contend, but I appreciate the desire to ride the season's premier Grand Tour one last time.

And of course, there are a host of lesser riders whose names are only familiar to cycling nerds like me who would have real trouble finding a team this season. Pietro Caucchioli, Alessandro Spezialetti, Daniele Pietropolli, and much of the ridership that fled the LPR sinking ship for Lampre would make for fine Grand Tour support riders backing someone like Cunego or Simoni (or ideally someone more talented and/or more in their physical prime).

The top Italian team is Liquigas, clearly. Franco Pellizotti has to be the odds-on favorite to win the Giro right now (if Ivan Basso weren't concentrating on the Tour, he would be). But Lampre would be a real loss to the peloton. So I'm not sure what to pull for in two months' time.


02/03/2010 12:54 PM
Obviously, we'd all prefer to *not* see any teams fold, but hopefully Lampre will get their paperwork in order and this will all be a formality. It was good to see the UCI step in and extend the deadline - something that was probably done out of respect for their many years in the sport.

I think Petacchi will be good this season, at least I hope so to make the finishes more interesting. He'll also have a well-drilled leadout team...he's already shown that his experience can be a factor after beating Cavendish last year. Hopefully with him and Farrar having some more support the sprints will be more competitive. Borut Bozic from Vacansoleil is also scrappy, so we can't count him out with the team looking for a Tour invite!
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