Development team in the works at Leopard Trek
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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Development team in the works at Leopard Trek

by Jered Gruber at 5:01 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
New team hopes for more Luxembourg talent in the future, Bob Jungels is tops on the wish list

The new Leopard Trek squad has leapt to the fore as the preeminent team in cycling with barely any racing beneath its wheels yet. The roster is a star-studded cast of some of the world's best, and there's little doubt that they'll be a team to watch from the Classics to the Tour de France.

The current level of the team is somewhere along the lines of something any team manager would dream of. However the squad is already looking for investing in the younger ranks to ensure that the quality of the team stays as high as it is now, while bringing up younger riders into the ranks. Those from Luxembourg are particularly valued.

Speaking to the country's Tageblatt newspaper, former Amstel Gold winner, Fränk Schleck, admits that they would have liked to have more riders from Luxembourg on the team.

"Absolutely…In principle, we're a team of the absolute top level; it's not enough to just be from Luxembourg. A rider has to earn his place on the team."

With that thought in mind, plans are already in the works to form a U23 development squad for Leopard Trek. Team director Kim Andersen confirms the likelihood, but says it will have to wait a little bit.

"That won't be until 2012 though - we have plenty enough to take care of right now."

Until then, Leopard Trek will continue to watch the great U23 teams of Europe and the world with a special focus on Luxembourg's top teams, including the CCI Differdingen, which stands Luxembourg's top development team. There was talk that Leopard Trek might take over the squad in the future, but that seems to be out of the question, with the team preferring to create their own product to move forward with.

"Like a lot of other teams, we will of course watch the U23 riders from the CCI Differdingen team. If we put together a team, it would have a similar style to Leopard Trek. It would be nice to give a rider like Bob Jungels a nice start," he said.

The mention of Bob Jungels seems to be the name of the moment for the future in Luxembourg - both Kim Andersen and Fränk Schleck mention the Junior World Time Trial champion, who is certainly one of the brightest young prospects in the world at the moment.

"He's of course interesting, but Bob still needs to develop," says Fränk Schleck. "He's without question in good hands. I'm not worried about that. At any rate, we're watching him."

Jungels is racing as a 19 year old in 2011, his first year in the U23 ranks. If Leopard Trek were to be able to set up a development team by 2012, it looks like they'd be in the perfect position to shoot straight to the fore, much as they're set to do on the sport's biggest stage. The first year in the Espoir ranks can often be one marked as a 'learning experience,' but for a rider like Jungels, there should be little to hold him back come his second year in the U23 ranks.

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