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Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) is Luxembourg national champion.
Guercilena, Schmidt and Michaelsen will help lead the Schlecks' new squad
After much initial secrecy surrounding the details of the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project, the new professional team announced the signing of three team managers. Italian Luca Guercilena, German Torsten Schmidt, and Dane Lars Michaelsen will join General Manager Brian Nygaard and Team Manager Kim Andersen in guiding the team through its initial season on the professional circuit.
"We are very lucky to have attracted Luca Guercilena to this team," Nygaard said. "With his background and depth of knowledge on the sporting as well as physiological level, he will have a huge impact on the success of the team. Luca was one of the first people I had in mind when this team became reality and I'm thrilled to have him on board. To me, Luca really personifies a lot of what this team is about."
Guercilena joins the team after years as a trainer and directeur sportif, first at Mapei and then at Quick Step. "I have a lot of friends and good memories at Quick Step, so it was a difficult decision to leave," Guercilena said. "Ultimately it was a professional decision because this new team interests me enormously, and I am very motivated to work with the sort of general classification riders who will be on the team."
Guercilena began his career as a trainer at the Sport Service Mapei after studying at the University of Milan. Starting as a trainer and manager for the Mapei youth squad, Guercilena became a trainer and directeur sportif for Quick Step in 2003, making him an innovator in his field.
"Today, it is normal for a team to have a directeur sportif who has a background in sports medicine and works as a trainer for the riders too," Guercilena said. "But back then I think we were the first to have a trainer with the competence of a sports director."
"I worked with junior racers first, and then with riders like (Fabian) Cancellara, (Fillipo) Pozzato and (Allan) Davis on the U23 Mapei team," Guercilena said. "I enjoy working with young riders and seeing their development."
Guercilena's non-pressurized, open door, pro-communication policy toward his riders should suit the youthful, undogmatic team. "Our racing goals will be the same as just about every other top team: the Classics and the Tour," Guercilena said. "But for everyone the most important thing will be to have strong unity among the riders and a good image in the way we handle ourselves and our riders."
Torsten Schmidt joins the team from Luxembourg after having been a long-time professional racer himself. He has spent the past three years as a directeur sportif with Saxo Bank. "I think it will be very exciting to have the chance to be a part of building up this new team," Schmidt said. "I am extremely happy to be included and anxious to set new goals for myself."
Coming to a team, which contains several former colleagues, made the decision to switch easier for Schmidt. "There was no doubt in my mind where I wanted to go," he said. "Even though it is a new team, I have worked with many of the members of management and a few of the riders before, so we all know each other, know how we work well together and I am absolutely sure we will be successful." Schmidt emphasizes team-building as a key to getting results.
"Torsten is hands-down one of the best young sports directors in professional cycling and he was an obvious candidate for a leading role on the team," said Nygaard, who also used to be with Saxo Bank. "He has made the transition from rider to sports director in the best possible way and he has clearly shown the ability to lead a successful team regardless of whether it is racing a Grand Tour, a Classic or a smaller event. Torsten wants to win, but he never deviates from the fact that a team needs to function on all levels from riders to staff working behind the scenes, and that will be an important part of this project,"
Former Danish professional Lars Michaelsen signed on to become the Luxembourg team's third Assistant Team Manager. His background includes a 16-year career and a few years as a directeur sportif.
"It is important for me that the people involved in this project have a passion for cycling and at the same time are reliable people that I would like to work with," Michaelsen said. "This team is composed of riders, staff, directors and managers who all have great experience in cycling and at the same time want to look forward and make cycling a solid sport, separating it from its troubled recent past and keeping it interesting and exciting for all fans everywhere."
Michaelsen will be keen to share his experiences as a professional racer as well as expand his knowledge working as a sports director. "I hope that I can pass on my experiences to the greatest advantage for the riders," Michaelsen said. "In life you can always learn. The fact that this team is composed of different people, with different nationalities and different mentalities will always stimulate me to observe and learn."
Michaelsen "brings a professional attitude and a great set of human skills to this team" according to Nygaard. "His meticulous attention to detail and his feel for racing will be a solid addition to our management. Lars has an international outlook and I'm sure he will be a major part of our future success. It is key for me that we can combine the idea of being humble because we're a new team with a winning attitude that reflects the fantastic group of people we have gathered."
The Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project is being set up by General Manager Brian Nygaard and Team Manager Kim Andersen as a new UCI ProTour team with 25 riders to compete in the world's biggest races. The new team will be racing on Trek bikes and Mercedes-Benz Luxembourg is providing the full fleet of vehicles ranging from buses and trucks to race cars and VIP vehicles.