Benatti and Viganò amongst new signings for Luxembourg pro team
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Benatti and Viganò amongst new signings for Luxembourg pro team

by Conal Andrews at 8:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Neo-pro Nizzolo and Portuguese climber Pires also come on board

Daniele BennatiTour de France runner-up Andy Schleck and his brother Frank have had some firepower added to their team for next year, following the announcement that top sprinter Daniele Bennati, fellow Italians Davide Viganò and neopro Giacomo Nizzolo plus the Portuguese rider Bruno Pires have all signed.

Benatti’s signing is intended to help the team start clocking up wins early on in 2011, thus boosting morale and taking the pressure off.

“Bennati is such a classy rider and we are very happy to have him,” said general manager Brian Nygaard. “He is really passionate about our project and I’m sure he’ll be a significant addition to our line-up.”

The 30 year old is a stage winner in all three Grand Tours, and won the points classification in the 2008 Giro d’Italia and the 2007 Vuelta a España. Although he’s already one of the fastest riders in cycling, Nygaard is convinced that he can improve further.

“He has won many impressive victories, but I actually don’t think we have seen his best yet,” he said. “I see him flourishing in the right environment and I believe we can provide that for him.”

Part of his belief that he can improve is based on this year’s Tour of Spain, and the support he provided for his Liquigas team leader there. “He’s an A-list sprinter, there is no question about that,” he continued. “But he was also one of the last guys with Nibali on the climbs in the Vuelta this year. So I’m sure he will be ready and a huge asset to the team in more than just the bunch sprints. I see him as a very versatile athlete.”

The rider is glad to have a chance to compete with the new squad, and wants to reward that trust with some strong early results.

“My objectives for the coming season are to get off to a good start from the first and try to make the most of Tirreno-Adriatico in order to be supremely prepared for the Milan San Remo,” he said. “The team will be shooting to do well in the Classics and the Grand Tours. We have a strong group of riders who are the right age to start securing some major victories, and I want to be right in there providing the best support to the team that I possibly can.”

Davide ViganoWhen it comes to the final run up to the bunch sprints, he will get strong support from Viganò and Nizzolo. The former got a big thumbs up from Nygaard, who believes he will be invaluable. “Davide is THE leadout man and without question one of the best in the business at it,” Nygaard enthused. “He is an expert at lining up the sprints and will pave the way for the team in those situations. Also, he is a really likable guy with a perfect personality for our team.”

The former Team Sky rider will also target races such as the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. “I really want to add value and show my quality in racing during the cobbled Classics, but most importantly, I want to demonstrate that I am a solid and reliable team player, and help make it the best group out there.”

Bennati’s leadout will also be boosted by Nizzolo, who has already shown his speed. “Giacomo is considered the next big sprinter to come out of Italy. He is very young, but is a super fast, pure sprinter. He’s a neo-pro and quite a young one at that, so we will certainly start him off without any pressure to produce result. We will give him time to develop and learn to be a professional, but I wouldn’t be the least surprised if he started gaining some results pretty quickly.”

The rider is looking forward to learning from the elder Italian, who has clocked up 43 wins thus far. “I am very excited to work with everyone on the team, but since I am a sprinter, I will be especially lucky to work with Bennati,” he said.

The quartet is completed by Pires, who was recommended by the team’s technical manager Ricardo Scheidecker. “Bruno is a talented climber, former Road National Champion of Portugal and has several victories during his career in Portugal,” he said. “Now this opportunity has appeared, so he’s grabbing it with all his strength and I’m sure he will perform at a very good level. He’s a humble man, and he will be ready to work 100% for his leaders.”

For his part, Pires said that he would target a broader role than chasing his own personal success. “My main goal for the season is to demonstrate to the team that I was a good choice and to thank them for believing in me. With that in mind, I don’t have any defined personal ambitions, but will put all my efforts towards helping my colleagues to make this project a success. I am definitely going to work to promote a great image for this newly organized professional cycling team.”

Further information on the 25-man team is expected to be released shortly, including the final line-up and the main sponsors. It is rumoured that four-time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara might also be accompanying the Schleck brothers across from Team Saxo Bank, but that remains to be confirmed. Jens Voigt and Jakob Fuglsang are expected to make the move.

The squad will be riding Trek bikes next year, with Mercedes-Benz Luxembourg providing the vehicles. It has applied for a ProTour licence and Nygaard has expressed confidence that it will be achieved.


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