Liquigas-Cannondale led by Nibali, Basso and Sagan at the Tour de France
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Liquigas-Cannondale led by Nibali, Basso and Sagan at the Tour de France

by Ben Atkins at 1:02 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Three captains but two objectives for Italian green and blue team

vincezo nibaliThe Liquigas-Cannondale has become the final team to announce its nine-man roster for the Tour de France, which starts on Saturday, June 30th. The green and blue Italian team will be led by the three-pronged attack of Italian overall contenders Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso, and Slovakian sprint sensation Peter Sagan. Despite the presence in the team of two general classification riders however, the team will be united behind Nibali as he aims to become the first Italian to win the Tour since Marco Pantani in 1998.

“We’ve got a group determined of men for this race who are ready to support their captains’ ambitions,” directeur sportif Stefano Zanatta. “The guys know each other well; many of them have followed similar preparation programmes to help things go smoother during the race. We’ll be on the frontline in this Tour de France to support the ambitions of Nibali and Sagan, and we’re aware of the responsibilities awaiting us.”

Despite Nibali being unable to agree an extended contract with Liquigas-Cannondale - and having reportedly already agreed a multi-million euro deal with Astana - the team will be right behind the Sicilian “Shark”.

Sagan meanwhile, has been virtually unbeatable in sprints so far this year. The 22-year-old, who successfully defended his Slovakian champion’s jersey on Sunday, has already taken 13 victories this year, including five of the eight stages of the Tour of California, and four in the Tour de Suisse. He has only ridden one Grand Tour to date, taking two stages in last year’s Vuelta a España, but will meet arguably his biggest challenge to date on the roads of France.

“We’re aiming for the top of the general classification and will support Vincenzo all the way to the last stage, plus we’ll strive to put Peter in the best possible position to win at least one stage,” Zanatta explained. “In his case it’s right to be ambitious but we’ll be mindful of the difficulties and pressures involved in a race like the Tour: the aim is to get a win and anything after that is a bonus.”

Having both Basso and Nibali in the team could potentially cause conflict, but 34-year-old Basso - who twice finished on the Tour podium, in 2004 and 2005, and finished seventh last year - will be abandoning his own ambitions as he rides in support of his younger teammate.

“Finally, Basso’s role will be essential for Nibali in the tougher stages and for managing the more intense phases of the race,” said Zanatta. “His experience and charisma will be fundamental for helping the team when the pressure hots up.”

Liquigas-Cannondale team for the Tour de France
Ivan Basso, Federico Canuti, Kristijan Koren, Dominik Nerz, Vincenzo Nibali, Daniel Oss, Peter Sagan, Sylwester Szmyd and Alessandro Vanotti

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