RadioShack-Nissan will send a “very, very strong” team to the Tour de France this year, which will be needed to help Andy Schleck overcome his time trial weakness, according to team manager Johan Bruyneel. The Belgian is also looking for his team to land on the top step of the podium at the Amgen Tour of California.
On his personal website, Bruyneel said, “certainly time trialing will be a factor in this year's race. And we need to be honest with ourselves. As talented a rider as Andy is, time trialing is not his strength. The expectation is not to beat Cadel (Evans, ed.) or any of the time-trialists in the TT. I think that would be unrealistic.
“So we'll need to maximize his strengths and work on limiting his losses. To do this, we'll need to implement an aggressive strategy. I think another thing that plays to our benefit is that we'll have an extremely strong support team. I don't know exactly who will make up the entire Tour team yet, but there's no doubt that it will be very, very strong.”
Schleck wore the yellow jersey on the day before the final time trial in the Tour 2011, and went into that stage with a 57 second lead over Evans. But after the time trial, Schleck was 1:34 down on the Australian.
While Bruyneel wouldn't say who will be on the Tour team, he did say that Jens Voigt “would certainly be considered.” The German is “reliable, sacrifices himself for the team, knows what the Tour is all about, etc. And all this at the age of 40. Impressive to say the least.”
Chris Horner will lead the team in the Tour of California, and “if he shows up at the race in the condition he had last year, I'll feel very good about our chances.” Horner, who is also 40, will be supported by George Bennett, Matthew Busche, Markel Irizar, Ben King, Tiago Machado, Gregory Rast and Jens Voigt.
“One trend that has been evident since the race started in 06 is that each year is more challenging. Not only from a route standpoint, but also from the competitive group of riders racing,” Bruyneel said.
“I'm expecting it to be the toughest edition yet and hopefully we'll be on that top step in LA.”