Team's future assured despite rumours of an Alonso takeover
Riders and staff from Giant-Shimano again exchanged high fives, hugs and big smiles after Marcel Kittel won his second stage at this year's Tour de France on Monday in London.
The boys in black and white again proved they are the sprint kings of the Tour de France after producing a perfect high-speed lead-out on the streets of central London so that Kittel could use his immense power to win from the front on The Mall, and with Buckingham Palace in the background.
"It was another great day for us," team manager Iwan Spekenbrink told Cyclingnews proudly after congratulating his riders and staff.
"A sprint is always a fight and you need a very good sprinter to win but a sprinter can never win at this level without a good team to help. You need to be fresh and in a good position. This win was a victory for a sprinter and his team."
Giant-Shimano dominated the lead-out, hitting the front in the final three kilometers of stage 3 and setting such a pace that no other team was able to pass them. They gave Kittel an armchair ride to the finishing straight and he finished it off by sprinting to victory from the front.
"I was a little scared that they went to the front a little too early but they kept going and going and going, and they were strong enough," Spekenbrink said.
"It's impossible to lead out sprints from a long way now. Timing is important and the sprinter has to be fresh. You also have to be prepared to lose. Today they kept pulling for three kilometres. Omega Pharma tried to come up to us but then they were gone. It was beautiful to watch."
Future assured thanks to Giant
Spekenbrink is part of the new generation of team managers in professional cycling. He has built his team gradually over the years with a new philosophy and fresh ideas.
The precarious structure of professional cycling meant that Giant had to step in to the save the team last winter when a possible sponsorship with an unknown American charity organization fell through but Spekenbrink insists the team's future is now secure.
He spent Monday morning denying a report in L'Équipe newspaper that Formula One pilot Fernando Alonso was about to take over his team.
"We go on as a team. I want to make that clear because there seems to be a lot of speculation out there," he told Cyclingnews.
"We agreed we'd work together with Giant last December but there are several different scenarios that are possible and we're discussing them and working on them. They're regarding the position of Giant as a sponsor on the jersey and other potential companies. That's what we've got to look at but we have time to do that. Our future is assured.
"I don’t know where the rumours that we may be joining up with Alonso surfaced. Giant stepped up in December and that secured our future. We have to be thankful to them because we can build a great future together."
Spekenbrink arguably has the best sprinter in the world in Kittel and the best sprint lead-out train to help the German win but he hopes to grow and develop his team in other directions in 2015.
"I think a team's direction always depends on the riders it has on its roster. We've got a great sprinter who is world class and a great lead-out," he said.
"I really believe in Warren Barguil for the future and the overall classifications in stage races. We've also got Tom Dumoulin for time trials and John Degenkolb for the Classics. We want to develop every rider and then support the talents with great teamwork for whatever their goals are."
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