RadioShack Nissan Trek team officially launched in Luxembourg
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Friday, January 06, 2012

RadioShack Nissan Trek team officially launched in Luxembourg

by Ben Atkins at 12:53 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
“We have the strongest team,” says new manager Johan Bruyneel

andy schleck,frank schleckThe RadioShack Nissan Trek team was officially launched at a press conference at the Rockhal, in the avenue du rock ‘n’ roll, in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, today. Wearing a black suit and shirt, new general manager Johan Bruyneel presented the team to the media, flanked by five of the team’s biggest names. Fränk and Andy Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Andreas Klöden and Chris Horner sat dressed in beige cardigans, in contrast to the matching suits and scarves of last year’s Leopard Trek show.

Each member of the team had his country’s flag next to his name on the name card in front of them; Klöden though, had the flag of the European Union as a possible gesture to the German media or the German Cycling Federation.

Although the team refers to itself by the name of all three sponsors, International Cycling Union (UCI) regulations only permit two, and so the team is officially named RadioShack Nissan.

“With this team we can compete anywhere,” said Bruyneel, according to Wielerupdate.nl.

As a directeur sportif, Bruyneel has sat behind the wheel and masterminded overall victory in thirteen Grand Tours, including nine Tours de France with Lance Armstrong (7) and Alberto Contador (2). Unsurprisingly, a tenth Tour victory is the Belgian’s main goal of 2012, and he appears to be tiring of the prevailing opinion that the almost 100km of time trials in the race put it beyond Andy Schleck.

“The stories that Andy cannot win this Tour have got to stop,” he said. “The Tour can be won or lost in many ways, on any day. Our advantage is that we have the strongest team. Men like [2011 winner Cadel] Evans and Contador have weaker teams around them, and are quickly isolated.”

While the team’s American sponsors have transferred to the Luxembourg-based infrastructure – and ProTeam license – of Leopard Trek, the rider roster is very much a merger of the two teams. Bruyneel brings a number of familiar faces with him, including Klöden and Horner, but it will be the first time that he will be working alongside the Schlecks.

“I always wanted to work with the Schleck brothers,” he said. “I’ve followed them ever since they arrived in the peloton. They are real climbers, with genuine talent; their time trialling could be better, but we’re working one it.

“I’m sure that together we can make a great season of it,” he added.

Many commentators – including the great Eddy Merckx himself – have expressed the opinion that, with the flatter, time trial dominated Tour route this year, Andy Schleck would be better off targeting the more mountainous Giro d’Italia.

The 26-year-old Luxembourger has pooh-poohed any suggestion of this many times in recent months, and did so again at the team’s press conference.

“As beautiful the Giro is, it is not the Tour and never will be,” he said of the race that saw him burst on to the scene as a 21-year-old back in 2007, Wielerland reports. “My dream is to win the Tour de France and I’m confident that together we will succeed. Only if this proves impossible will I decide to go to the Giro or Vuelta.”

Schleck’s lack of time trialling prowess cost him the Tour de France last year, just as it denied elder brother Fränk back in 2008. The three-time runner up is determined that this year it won’t be so decisive however.

“I’ve put in a lot of hours on my time trial bike and I’m working on improving my position on the bike. I will never win the Tour in the time trials, but could lose it. I want to limit the damage against the clock and take the battle to the mountains.”

The entire team will be presented to the public at a live show this evening, much as the Leopard Trek team was last year. The jersey will be officially unveiled at the event, although a picture of Cancellara wearing it has already been leaked on Twitter.

Despite RadioShack taking the principle place as first name-sponsor, the design of the jersey, made by craft is very much like the Leopard Trek one of 2011. Instead of the simple pale blue line below the black upper section however, there are red and white stripes above it – with RadioShack’s logo appearing in the red one – to make a Luxembourg flag; making it look almost identical to Fränk Schleck’s Luxembourg champion’s jersey of last year.

The closeness to the previous Leopard Trek jersey perhaps reflects the fact that the team’s 2011 backer Flavio Becca is still making a considerable financial contribution to the team, despite the acquisition of three major sponsors.

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