Ullrich considers "red team"
Yesterday, Thursday, Acqua & Sapone, officially presented its 2007 squad to the public. While not a ProTour-level team, the "red team" packs a punch and will likely take part in the big races, like the Giro d'Italia, thanks to the off-season signing of 2000 winner Stefano Garzelli.
"The program for this year will be completely concentred on the Giro d'Italia," explained Palmiro Masciarelli. "With Garzelli, who has won the Giro in 2000 and a second place three years later, we will definitely point towards the general classification."
The affair in Cecina (Livorno) was star-studded, with Italian national DS Franco Ballerini and double world champion Freddy Maertens; the latter acting as sort of a father figure for the team's other major signing, Franck Vandenbroucke. The Belgian is very much Italian, for the past few years he has lived near Milano and, since joining Acqua & Sapone, he has based himself out of the Masciarelli residence in Le Marche, an ideal place for training.
The team consists of 18 riders (five neo-pro) and makes a good base former-Liquigas rider Garzelli. "Every day I am more and more convinced of my decision," confirmed il Varesino. "I have had good sensations since September [when signing]; it really feels like my home. ... I am preparing with conviction for the Giro, where I hope to be a protagonist."
There is a rumour in Italy that a certain German could make 19 for Masciarelli's team. "Jan [Ullrich] writes me every day via e-mail," confirmed the team manger to La Gazzetta dello Sport of ongoing talks with the 1997 Tour winner. "He is convinced that he will be exonerated; our sponsor is ready to negotiate."
See the full details of in the Cyclingnews teams database.