Roman Kreuziger is looking to land a podium place at the Giro d'Italia in his first year with Astana. The Czech says that if things go right, he could even end up on the top step.
But that means that he won't be riding the Tour de France this year. Despite rumours that he would be the number two man at the Tour behind Alexander Vinokourov and ready to take over it the Kazakh falters, Kreuziger doesn't expect to ride the Tour until 2012.
"My main race will be the Giro this year.,” he told Cyclingnews from the team training camp in Italy. “I want to do really well there and am convinced that I will.”
"I am convinced that I can ride on to the podium and when everything works out right I think I can win it. I am very motivated.”
But that means that the Tour will fall by the wayside. “Riding the Tour in addition would be too difficult. I will ride the Giro and Vuelta this year, and the Tour in 2012. The Giro is really hard this year and doing the Giro and Tour would just be too much,” said the 24-year-old.
Things will change in 2012, though, when he expects to be Tour captain in Vinokourov's absence. “This is Vino's last season, I am a bit sorry that I won't ride the Tour with him, but that's cycling.”
Kreuziger was the first big name to sign with Astana after it was announced that Alberto Contador was leaving. After five years with Liquigas, he needed a change. “ I still had a year on my contract with Liquigas, but I just didn't have the right morale to ride more races. I just wasn't happy there any more.”
"I had offers from two or three teams, and after weighing all the pros and cons I decided Astana was the best fit.”
He is now happy with that decision. “I feel really good here. I find the 'old-timers' on the team have accepted me really well, and taken me into their family,” he told Cyclingnews. “There are all kinds of great things and new things which I didn't have at Liquigas, which make me happy.”
Kreuziger has a lot of respect for team leader Vinokourov. “As a Kazakh, Vinokourov is very important to the team. He is sympathetic, a very good rider, a very aggressive ride. I can learn a lot from him. If you get along with him, you will get a lot of help.”
"He is willing to help his teammates and that strengthens the team.”
Kreuziger said that he and the team had just started work on his race calendar. “I will start at Algarve. What comes between Algarve and the Giro will be finalised in the next few days.”
The Czech won the U19 world road championship in 2004, finishing second in the time trial. He turned professional with Liquigas in 2006. After two wins in 2007, he had a breakthrough year in 2008, winning the overall title in the Tour de Suisse and finishing second overall in the Tour de Romandie, as well as finishing 13th overall in his first Tour de France.
In 2009, he won the Tour de Romandie, and this year he won the Giro di Sardegna, plus finishing ninth overall in the Tour de France.