By Jesper Johannesen, feltet.dk
Barely had the former Rabobank rider Karsten Kroon finished his contract with Dutch team, he started to look forward to a new era with Danish team CSC. Kroon explained the change with the wish for more responsibility, as he wanted to be able to go for victories for himself in future, which he wasn't allowed to do in the Spring classics at Rabobank. Furthermore, Kroon wasn't satisfied with the team's tactics, and his role as domestique.
"I've been riding at Rabobank for the last nine years, which in fact is my whole career", he explained to Feltet.dk. "I had some problems at Rabobank this season, and the main reason was that the team had many strong and good riders like Michael Boogerd, Erik Dekker and Oscar Freire, and they weren't always better than me, but I had to ride for them anyway. That was the reason for me to decide to change teams. I spoke to my manager about it, and we discussed the interesting alternatives, and naturally Team CSC was on top of my list. I contacted Bjarne Riis, and we reached an agreement, with which I'm very pleased. The team has a unique team spirit and is highly respected in the peloton, so for me it was clearly my preferred choice," Kroon added with a big smile on his face.
At the Danish team, the Dutchman is expecting to be able to battle for the victories in some of the big classics. "My aim is definitely the classics, where I'll be focusing on Ronde van Vlaanderen, Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Furthermore, I'll most likely ride the Vuelta and maybe the Tour," said Kroon, whose contract with CSC will last until December 31, 2007.
While Kroon knows that winning a classic isn't easy, he sees his chances considerably improved at Team CSC. "I reckon that Team CSC ride the Classics in a very optimistic way, not just focusing everything on one rider," he explained. "They'll let the other riders get the chance, if they have the better legs. Put in another way, if they have good enough legs to win the race, they'll be allowed to ride their own chances, something I wasn't allowed to do at Rabobank. If I was in a break away, for instance, and might have the opportunity to win the race, I was told over the radio to stop riding, as we were supposed to support another rider," a clearly frustrated Kroon continued, hesitating for a moment.
"I think it's really bad! When you're a professional rider, this is also the way to earn to your living. When people say that what you did was great, and it really wasn't what you had wanted to do, it really hurts. So naturally I wasn't happy", the Dutchman added, nevertheless insisting that Rabobank was a still great team. "Rabobank is a good team, they're really well organized and pay well," he said to avoid any misunderstandings. "There are no problems at the team. The problems I faced were only during the past year, where I felt that I was able to be with the best for the first time in my career, which wasn't the case previously. That's why it wasn't a problem for me to ride for the other riders then. I really worked hard to get this level. I don't know exactly why I've become so strong, but I'm just very happy about it!"