Czech Republic's first Tour winner?
Czech Republic's Roman Kreuziger is only 23 years old but has clear ambitions for his second Tour de France, July 4 to 26.
"The goal is to try to arrive in the top 10. It would be good to win a stage and maybe arrive 51st, but I prefer to arrive in the top of the classification," he told Cyclingnews.
"I have to keep my feet on the ground" - Kreuziger on his Tour chances
Kreuziger is young but has shown that he has the abilities to at least repeat last year's Tour performance, where he finished 12th overall. He finished 10th in the País Vasco stage race in April, won Tour de Romandie in May and took third at the Tour de Suisse just over a week ago.
"I have to keep my feet on the ground because at the Tour because others are more mature and stronger than me. I have my top 10 goal and then once the race gets going we will see how situation looks."
Though he lost the Tour de Suisse to Fabian Cancellara he rode stronger than his Tour rivals did over the nine days. Kreuziger finished 26 seconds up on Andreas Klöden and nearly a minute on Vladimir Karpets. He also took time on them in the final 39-kilometre time trial.
"Everyone saw that Cancellara won the final long time trial strongly. With respect to my other rivals – Karpets, Klöden – I went very well. It was a good test before the Tour."
A strong Liquigas team supports Kreuziger. The roster includes Franco Pellizotti, third overall at the Giro, and Vincenzo Nibali, 18th in last year's Tour. The three riders plan to help each other for the overall classification until a clear leader among them emerges.
"Pellizotti went very well at the Italian championships, with him and Nibali we will have a great team. We also have strong riders at our side, they know how to do their work for us and help Daniele Bennati in the sprints."
Liquigas' full team is Kreuziger, Italians Nibali, Pellizotti, Bennati, Fabio Sabatini and Alessandro Vanotti, Belorussian Aleksandr Kuschynski, Belgian Frederik Willems and Dane Brian Vandborg. Sprinter Bennati won two stages in the 2007 Tour de France.
The Tour de France departs Saturday with a 15.5-kilometre time trial in Monaco. It includes seven high-mountain stages and two other time trials. It finishes Sunday, July 26, in Paris.