Armstrong, Leipheimer to lead veteran Radioshack team in Tour of California
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Armstrong, Leipheimer to lead veteran Radioshack team in Tour of California

by Conal Andrews at 5:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Tour of California

Radioshack general manager Johan Bruyneel has announced what is likely to be the oldest team in this year’s Tour of California, with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong heading a team that has an average age of 34 years.

The 38 year old Armstrong will be joined by Chris Horner (also 38), Levi Leipheimer (36), Jose Luis Rubiera (37), Jason McCartney (36), Yaroslav Popovych (30) and Dmitriy Muravyev (30). Jani Brajkovic is in fact the only rider under the age of 30, being 26 years old.

Bruyneel will count on experience winning out over the younger squads in the event, and insists that the team has a good chance despite what he says will be the strongest lineup in the race’s history.

“We will start there with Levi Leipheimer, who is going for his very impressive fourth straight victory, and three other Americans - Lance Armstrong, Chris Horner and Jason McCartney. Add Jani Brajkovic, Dmitriy Muravyev, Yaroslav Popovych and Chechu Rubiera to the mix and we have a strong team,” he said on his blog.

“HTC Columbia brings Mark Cavendish; SaxoBank [has] Cancellara, Schleck and Voigt; while Rabobank – having a lot of offices on the West Coast - comes with a strong roster too. BMC is stronger than they've ever been before with George Hincapie. This will certainly be the most competitive field since the race started in 2006.”

Armstrong, Leipheimer and McCartney have not raced much of late, competing in the Tour of the Gila rather than contesting the Spring Classics in Europe. That race, which ran from April 28th to May 2nd, saw Leipheimer come out on top. Armstrong had been expected to show himself there but ended up sixteenth, almost seven minutes back. He did work for Leipheimer, though, so it is hard to assess his form compared to 2009. Then, he came back from a fractured collarbone and took second overall.

In announcing the team, Bruyneel also explained once again why RadioShack didn’t enter riders into the Giro d’Italia. “We have to start the Amgen Tour of California with our best team. I found it inappropriate to start with a B-team in the Giro. There are too many strong teams at the Giro and I think that you always have to start with ambition in a Grand Tour, which lasts three weeks,” he said.

“To enter a race, it's important to have clear objectives, which must be communicated clearly to the team and each individual rider. If you don't have these objectives, why enter a race?”

Many of the other teams due to compete in California also have squads in Italy, including BMC Racing, Liquigas Doimo and the Cervélo Test Team. Bruyneel feels that leaders from these squads are the most likely to fight it out for the final honours in Italy.

“I expect the coming weeks to be a duel between Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso. In theory Evans is the big favorite, but I ask myself whether his BMC Team will be strong enough to support him. Never underestimate the power or weakness of a team,” he stated.

“A good outsider could also be Carlos Sastre. He is at his best during the third week, and as far as I know, that third Giro week is really hard and looks decisive. Don’t underestimate Sastre.”


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