Bryan Nygaard has tipped Andy Schleck as the number one favourite for next year’s Tour de France.
The team manager of the new Luxembourg-based team was in Paris on Monday for the unveiling of the 2011 race route and liked the mountainous profile and limited amount of time trial kilometres. Schleck finished a close second to Alberto Contador this year and won the white jersey as best young rider.
“For me the favourite is Andy,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I would be bullshitting if I said this wasn’t the perfect parcours for him. It’s still nine months to go and a lot can happen in that time, but if you look at the parcours he as an athlete couldn’t ask for more. We have to be satisfied. We won’t downplay his role as a favourite.”
Nygaard’s team are still waiting for the UCI to approve their ProTour licence for next year but he is confident that the team is on the right track. They have already announced that they will be riding Trek bikes and that Mercedes will be providing team cars. Several of the Schlecks’ former Saxo Bank teammates and staff are expected to join the team, creating one of the strongest teams in the peloton.
“We’ve filed what we need to file. I have to say there are some tough criteria in order to get the license but I really support that. You can’t show up with a half finished dossier. It’s a serious matter,” Nygaard said.
As for rider rosters and sponsors, he added: “We’ll announce riders this week and in the coming weeks. Everything will come in the next couple of months, including the team’s identity, and we’ll have a big presentation in Luxembourg in January.”
Recent reports have indicate that the team will be funded by a pool of sponsors, rather than one leading company, and may compete under the name of Pro Team Luxembourg.
Looking to the route for next year, Nygaard was confident that the team he has assembled will be strong enough to back both Andy Schleck and his brother Frank.
“In the recruiting process we’ve looked specifically at that parcours and we wanted to bring people who were fit for the task,” he said in regard to the team time trial.
“If you have the privilege of having two riders of that calibre of Andy and Frank, tactically you’ll have the upper hand but then again you’ll always see new riders coming through.”
“It’s a race for the climbers but I think it’s a fantastic and I think it’s going to be a great race for people who love cycling.”