Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project names two more for Schlecks’ team
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project names two more for Schlecks’ team

by Shane Stokes at 12:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Wagner and Pedersen signed up, will play team roles

Robert WagnerThe Schleck brothers have gained another two team-mates with the announcement that the German rider Robert Wagner and the Danish sprinter Martin Pedersen have both been signed to the team.

The addition of the 27 year old duo, who were born just two days apart, follows on from the UCI’s announcement that the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project has been awarded a ProTour licence for 2011. Wagner and Pedersen are coming from the Skil-Shimano and Footon-Servetto-Fuji squads respectively, and therefore move up to a higher level.

The team describes them as being able to control the peloton during ‘long, wind-swept Grand Tour stages. Wagner and Pedersen are two strongmen who are keen to work for their leaders and also well- equipped to take their own personal glory when the moment presents itself,” it said.

Wagner has competed with the Wiesenhof, Milram Continental, Team Weisenhof-Felt and the aforementioned Skil-Shimano squads, and had some good performances this year. He won the Ronde van Noord Holland, and netted victory on stage two of the Three Days of De Panne, the Delta Tour Zeeland and Bayern Runfahrt.

He’s now moving to a much bigger team and is looking forward to the chance to move his career onwards. “This project is a big challenge for me and working with professionals and athletes of the highest quality will only help me reach another level,” he explained. “Every year I discover new things about myself and set new goals, but now I will be able to work for my team at a Pro Tour level which will add that much more motivation!”

“Robert is a solid rider who is very strong on the flat, in the wind, on the cobbles – basically: the tough races in Northern Europe,” General Manager Brian Nygaard explained. “He knows how to place himself in the sprints and always comes away with at least a couple of nice victories a year.” It’s the work he can do for the team which is equally attractive, though: “Robert is a team player and definitely someone we can count on in the Classics,” he said.

Wagner is prepared to put personal ambition aside, and to dedicate himself to the new Luxembourg setup. “I will be very determined to help this team be successful from the first race through the season finale,” he promised. “Every one of my team-mates is an absolute world-class athlete. They are all well-known for their perfectionism and professionalism, so I can’t wait to get the 2011 season underway.”

Coming back to the fold:

Pedersen previously competed with some of his new team-mates on the CSC squad in 2006 and 2007. He then left the team and raced with GLS-Pakke Shop, Team Capinordic and Footon-Servetto-Fuji, and now returns to work with the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project’s general manager Brian Nygaard and head directeur sportif Kim Andersen, who were both part of CSC at the time.

Nygaard’s past exerience of the rider was a big reason why he was offered a contract. “We have set out to sign riders that we have every confidence in personally and professionally,” he explained, emphasising that the overall balance of the project was crucially important. “We did not sign anyone that we believed would not fit in the ethos of the team. Martin, I believe will fit like a glove not only with his skill as a bike racer, but also his accessible personality.”

The Danish competitor had won the Rund um Koln in 2009 but had a quiet season this year. He’ll hope to get back to full form in 2011, and looks forward to working for the team and also taking whatever opportunities come his way.

“I think my strengths rest in my ability to do well in many different terrains which will mean that I can be a service to the team in multiple situations,” Pedersen explained. “I also have a snappy sprint, so that I can take advantage of that when given the chance in breakaways, for instance.

“I will want to focus on improving both my sprint and my skills in the mountains, so that I will be able to offer the greatest assistance to the team, and indeed, put myself in a position to succeed personally.”

The team is almost full, confirming today that it has announced 24 out of the final 25 riders. Many anticipate that final slot will be filled by quadruple world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara, who is expected to be confirmed soon. He has long been linked to his former team-mates Andy and Franck Schleck and Jakob Fuglsang, and spoke recently of the importance in being with those he knows in his next team.

He looks set to join up with those three riders, along with fellow former Saxo Bank riders Jens Voigt, Stuart O’Grady and Dominic Klemme, plus other strong competitors such as Linus Gerdemann (Milram), Daniele Bennati (Liquigas – Doimo), Brice Feillu (Vacansoleil), Maxime Monfort (HTC Columbia) and Joost Posthuma (Rabobank).

The strength of the lineup is underlined by the fact that it is ranked first in the UCI’s hierarchy of teams for 2011. That leads many to believe the squad will dominate, but Nygaard says that he isn’t intimidated by that pressure.

“With the sort of riders we have signed, a lot will be expected of us. And I’m perfectly happy about that,” he said. “We will not be bound by any outside pressures, but we do believe that we will outlast the hype and we have every confidence in our project.”

The team has made it clear that it is planning on winning the 2011 Tour de France. Schleck has finished second the past two years. He could yet be named winner of this year’s race, depending on the outcome of the Alberto Contador case.

 

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