Monday, in Brescia, the 2007 Lampre-Fondital team was presented with one aim in mind; quality over quantity. "The quantity of successes has been great but now we need to better the quality," said Team Manager Giuseppe Saronni to La Gazzetta dello Sport regarding his team of 25 riders.
2006 marked a year of close calls, with Alessandro Ballan being close to the win at Paris-Roubaix, Damiano Cunego showing his 2004-brilliance at the Giro d'Italia before going on to take the Young Rider classification in the Tour de France and Daniel Bennati racking up sprint wins but falling short in the Tour.
With the presentation held at Luigi Olivari military airport in Ghedi, the team is hoping for inspiration from the many fighter jets. Cunego was kitted as a pilot to experience Italy's PA-200 and noted, "I can say that I also tried this." (Cunego did not actually fly in the jet, which cost €28,000 an hour when in operation.) "I am passionate about motorized vehicles but this is completely different than racing cars. ... These planes really have some power and I hope that this will be a good omen for the season."
The team can look back on the 2006 season with a sense of pride; they were the top ranked Italian ProTour team and finished fifth overall in the competition behind Team CSC, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, Rabobank and on equal with Discovery Channel. Its 27 wins were mostly thanks to sprinters Bennati (9) and Danilo Napolitano (7).
"My preparations are the same as one year ago, but this winter I went to the Canary Islands," said Bennati, who started his season last weekend in the GP Etruschi, to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "In 2006 I set myself up to peak for the Northern Classics but this year I am aiming to win immediately."
Ballan will once again point towards the pavé; hoping to improve on his placings in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix (5th and 3rd). "It has been a warm winter, seven degrees hotter than normal, and this has helped me prepare," noted Ballan who lives in Veneto. "I have all I need to do well; serenity, conviction and a team that feels like home."
Cunego has packed his bags and departed for Spain where he will start his 2007 season in the Ruta del Sol. "Am I able to return like 2004?" he questioned of the year in which he won the Giro d'Italia and the Giro di Lombardia. "Also better, because my motor has grown in these years and I have gained experience.
"I am starting my season Sunday at the Ruta del Sol and I can't wait. With the races we will be able to make a clearer picture and see if we can go better yet. The team is stronger than ever and I know I can count on them."
Regarding the 2007 Giro, Director Sportif Beppe Martinelli added, "Damiano has an obligation to win it, the Giro." "I am not hiding my desire to win the race" Cunego concluded. "Basso? The rivalry with him has risen to an artificial level. Even if we don't talk much, I will see him on the roads. Anyway, he is not my only rival, for the race there will be many dubious [riders]."
2007 Lampre-Fondital team: Alessandro Ballan (Ita - 06/11/1979), Claudio Corioni (Ita - 26/12/1982), Damiano Cunego (Ita - 19/09/1981), Daniele Bennati (Ita - 24/09/1980), Daniele Righi (Ita - 28/03/1976), Danilo Napolitano (Ita - 31/01/1981), David Loosli (Swi - 08/05/1980), Enrico Franzoi (Ita - 08/08/1982), Fabio Baldato (Ita - 13/06/1968), Francesco Gavazzi (Ita - 01/08/1984), Giampaolo Caruso (Ita - 15/08/1980), Giuliano Figueras (Ita - 24/01/1976), Gorazd Stangelj (Slo - 27/01/1973), Jaime Castañeda (Col - 29/10/1986), Marco Marzano (Ita - 10/06/1980), Marzio Bruseghin (Ita - 15/06/1974), Massimiliano Mori (Ita - 08/01/1974), Matteo Bono (Ita - 11/11/1983), Morris Possoni (Ita - 01/07/1984), Paolo Bossoni (Ita - 02/07/1976), Paolo Fornaciari (Ita - 02/02/1971), Paolo Tiralongo (Ita - 08/07/1977), Patxi Vila (Spa - 11/10/1975), Sylvester Szmyd (Pol - 02/03/1978) and Tadej Valjavec (Slo - 13/04/1977).
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