German faction in Leopard Trek team explain season goals
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Saturday, January 8, 2011

German faction in Leopard Trek team explain season goals

by Bjorn Haake at 4:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Wegmann to target Ardennes Classics once again

dominic klemmeThere are four Germans at the new Leopard Trek team in Luxembourg. The riders Fabian Wegmann (formerly Milram), Dominic Klemme (Saxo Bank) and Robert Wagner (Skil) detailed their race programs and talked about the new team at the recent team launch. Sports director Torsten Schmidt put the pressure on with what he expects out of the riders.

Wegmann is very clear about his ambitions. "The first goal for me are the Ardennes Classics, I want to be in top form then," he tells Radsport News in a video interview from the team launch. "With Andy and Fränk we have two guys who have won both races already." Andy won Liège - Bastogne - Liège in 2009, Fränk succeeded at the 2006 Amstel Gold Race. Wegmann missed most of the last Spring Classics season, but returned strongly with a 16th place in Liège - Bastogne - Liège. He will be a key player for the team's success this year in the Ardennes. "Of course I would love to win it someday but first and foremost I want to support the two [Schlecks], so our team can win."

Wegmann was the undisputed leader on Milram, but will have to settle in a less prominent role. This is not a problem for him, as he sees it as an opportunity. "We have a lot of stars, a lot of good riders. I hope I can grow with them. The competition within the team is bigger and I can profit from this," he says.

He is healed up, after a season cut short by injuries (broken collarbone and back problems). "I have put all the injury trouble from last year past me." The team went to Mallorca right after the team launch, with the new season looming for Wegmann. "It starts with the Mallorca Challenge."

After the classics he still has one big target left for 2011. "The Tour is a goal, but there are currently 14 to 15 riders on the preliminary team. We will see if I can make it," he said with a smile.

Wagner also starts the season with the Mallorca Challenge. Like Wegmann, he aims for a Grand Tour start, but is realistic about it. "I certainly won't go to the Tour, but maybe the Vuelta could be possible," he says.

Wagner came from the much smaller Skil-Shimano team, so he was quite impressed with the Leopard Trek setup. "Already the first team get together was amazing. Now the team presentation in front of, I think four and half thousand people. It certainly is three times bigger than what it was at Skil, which doesn't mean it was bad at Skil - not at all."

Many riders knew each other beforehand, either from races or even from being on the same teams. The newcomers were warmly embraced. "The week in Switzerland served to become a team. Integration was really quick and after one week it felt like we had already ridden together for a few years," Wagner says.

He will be mostly a team helper, but the management made one thing very clear right from the beginning. "Everybody will get a chance during the season. The art is to take advantage of that chance."

Klemme 's first encounter with the Italians

Klemme moved over from the Saxo Bank team, which is equally big, so he didn't find too many differences. "The only change for me is that it's the first time that I am in a team together with Italians," he says with a smile. The youngster is also targeting the early season. "I want to be 100 percent at the Classics. Some of them I had ridden once, some never. I'd really like to do the Tour of Flanders this year."

The rest of the year isn't quite decided yet for him. "Maybe I'll do the Giro, but after a full Classics season, you already have a lot of races. The Giro is in May, immediately after the classics. I can't say that I will do the Giro for sure, right now."

As a young rider, he still has a lot of questions. Klemme says it is easy to find the persons with certain specialties to ask them. "For the classics, that would be O'Grady and Cancellara, who have both won already."

His personal goal for the season is very simple, with all the domestique duties aside. "I would like to win a bike race again."

This is also what their directeur sportif, Torsten Schmidt, hopes for. "We live in a society based on success and success is always nice," he says firmly. "The guys race because there is a first place and a last place. It is totally normal - we want success."

Schmidt explains that the team has done its share to make the project a successful one - the rest is up to the riders. "We do this very professionally. It is really the nice part of the whole thing when you have success."



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