Liquigas' Kreuziger to aim higher at the Tour de France

Czech to stay at Italian squad, despite rumours of move to Omega Pharma-Lotto

Liquigas' Roman Kreuziger says he wants a higher finish than the ninth place he achieved at this year's Tour de France after his team announced on Monday in Moena, Italy, that he would be one of its three captains for the 2010 Tour. The Czech rider has also confirmed that he will remain at Liquigas until the end of 2010, despite rumours of a move to Belgian team Omega Pharma-Lotto.

"I am not yet ready to win the Tour, but I want to do better than this year," he said. "I know I have the capacity to do it."

Kreuziger finished 14:16 behind Tour winner Alberto Contador this year.

The 23-year-old will join Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali as Liquigas co-captains at the Tour. Franco Pellizotti will also form part of the team, but his objective will be to win a stage to add to his mountains classification win from this year.

"Ivan Basso's presence will help. He will carry the majority of the pressure for the team. This will allow Nibali and me to concentrate on our performances and learn."

Kreuziger confirmed that he will enter the 2010 Tour with Liquigas. Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad today reported that Kreuziger had reached an oral agreement with Omega Pharma-Lotto to join the latter team for the coming season; a move would have seen Kreuziger break his contract with Liquigas.

Omega Pharma-Lotto manager Marc Sergeant later admitted to Het Nieuwsblad that he had held brief discussions with Kreuziger in the past, but dismissed reports of an imminent transfer. Kreuziger himself has not ruled out the possibility of a future move away from Liquigas, but said he will see out his existing contract with the Italian team.

"All of our contracts are up for renewal at the end of [2010]. I might just end up staying with Liquigas and the other [riders on my team] could leave," he said. "But we have to first make sure Liquigas remains as a sponsor."

Kreuziger spent time at the Liquigas team camp in Moena this week planning his lead up to the Tour. His season will commence at the Giro di Sardegna, February 23 to 27.

"Last year I was six kilograms overweight at this point, but this year I am only three. I think that this is already a good start for me and it will be much easier to arrive at top form. I want to already be competitive at Paris-Nice, and at least try to win a stage there."

He will continue his season with the Volta a Catalunya, the Ardennes Classics, the Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Suisse. He won Romandie this year and Suisse in 2008, but will approach Swiss races differently in 2010.

"I will approach Suisse more relaxed to make sure my best will come at the Tour de France," he said.

Kreuziger will race two Grand Tours in 2010. He will join Nibali to co-captain Liquigas at the Vuelta a España, August 28-September 19.

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