Saxo Bank has all the answers
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saxo Bank has all the answers

by Jered Gruber at 2:48 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Volta a Catalunya

It was only nine days ago that former Danish star and now TV commentator, Rolf Sorensen, directed his attention at the lack of results from Denmark's superteam, Saxo Bank.

Sorensen wasn't unreasonable in his criticism of the team's so-so rides at both Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice, but the critique was still pointed: "It's a bit worrying...In my opinion, the management must have a serious talk with the riders to find out if anything has gone wrong in their preparations."

Saxo Bank sport director, Kim Andersen, defended his troops and made a now very pertinent notation when he said that the team's goals were still 3-5 weeks off.

Just days later, Saxo Bank had another quiet day in a big race, this time it was Milano-Sanremo. Both Fabian Cancellara and Matti Breschel made the lead group over the Poggio, but were completely silent in the finale.

Bjarne Riis was pleased with his troops, but reminded everyone that the big races were coming and his boys would be ready: "Matti did everything that we expected. Fabian is also where he should be, but he lacks perhaps the last bit of self-confidence. It'll come. I have no doubt that they both will be in the finales of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix."

And so we entered this past week with a Saxo Bank team doing more explaining than performing, but through it all, management supported its riders and promised that there were big things to come.

The tide took a turn for the positive first with a dominating performance by Cancellara and Breschel at the Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday. A hard effort by Cancellara set up Breschel's non-move that resulted in a tremendous solo effort, which netted the win for Breschel - his biggest. Breschel's win was all the more impressive considering the concerted effort from a chasing group of three, which never made any real ground against him.

The success continued on Thursday with both a win from one of the sport's most popular racers, Jens Voigt. Voigt has been strong in his return to racing following his horrific crash at the Tour de France last year, but it was on Thursday when he finally got everything just right. He attacked out of the field, bridged to the break, dropped most of the break, and then beat the last man standing in the sprint. It was vintage Voigt. That same day, Alex Rasmussen took the World Championship on the track in the scratch race back home in Copenhagen, Denmark - a minor, but significant sidenote to be sure.

The Saxo Bank boys were quiet on Friday, but resumed the winning-fest on Saturday. This time it came from their superstar, Swiss champion Fabian Cancellara. Cancellara's 2010 has been a mainly quiet affair with a lone victory at the Tour of Oman, but in Cancellara's case: no news is good news. His preparations proceeded with no real interruptions, and suddenly, after his spectacular move with 1.3k to go at the E3 Prijs Harelbeke that left Tom Boonen shaking his head in his wake - the news is alight with Saxo Bank genius.

Sunday continued the winning feeling. This time the win came from Spain via Argentinean sprinter, Juan Jose Haedo. Haedo took the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya. Up north, in the windswept plains of West Flanders, Matti Breschel was once again demonstrating his newfound power and showed himself as arguably the strongest rider in the race, until an untimely flat with 15k to go put paid to his chances of adding a major Classic to his resume.

It seems Saxo Bank has answered (in a matter of days) all of the preliminary questions leading in to the two biggest races of the Northern Classics, all that's left is winning.


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