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Chris Horner (RadioShack) rides near the front on the technical stage finale.
US ProTour squad signs 30 men from 14 nations
On the same day the UCI License Commission confirmed RadioShack-Nissan-Trek's WorldTour team status, the squad finalized its roster with 30 riders from 14 nations. The 2012 team, a combination of the 2011 teams of Leopard-Trek and RadioShack, will be led by six team directors under the management and direction of General Manager Johan Bruyneel.
Leopard S.A. President Flavio Becca is confident that the team will be competitive in 2012, prolonging the string of good results in 2011. "In our inaugural season, we had many podium places in the Classics and Tour de France. Oliver Zaugg completed the season with a spectacular Tour of Lombardy victory and we secured third place in the UCI World Tour ranking. But like any owner, whether it is in business or sports, I am constantly looking for ways to improve the team. Johan Bruyneel is a leader who has a proven record of unparalleled success. He maximizes talent, employs winning strategies and motivates riders and staff to achieve greatness. I am confident that Johan is the best person for our team."
Bruyneel has had a busy few months assembling the 2012 roster. "I've never been one to shy away from challenges so when I was presented with this opportunity, I immediately saw the potential of the idea. We collectively decided it was a win-win partnership for all parties. After that, we became focused on putting together 30 riders, which was a tougher task than I've ever experienced in the past.
"Combining Team RadioShack riders that we made an agreement with for 2012, with existing Leopard Trek riders resulted in 42 riders, 12 over the maximum limit for WorldTour teams. We worked hard to ensure that every rider's contract was honored and that each one had a place to ride in 2012; if not with RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, then with another professional cycling team. With the roster of 30 riders finalized, we can now spend all our time and effort in preparing this group for the challenges that lie ahead."
A focus on stage racing
The team's contingent of GC contenders proves its commitment to winning a Tour de France title. "It's too early to decide the complete Tour de France team, but I know we'll have numerous riders who can compete for the top podium step in Paris. Certainly Andy has come the closest, as he has finished second the past three years. I'm excited to work with him and Fränk, two talented and successful riders, who I believe will continue to rise in the eyes of the cycling world."
Andy Schleck believes Bruyneel will play an important role in achieving his lifetime dream of winning Grand Tours. "When the new management structure was announced, I was a bit unsure of all the changes. But after talking with Johan and really understanding his philosophy, it's very clear that having him lead this team is in my best interests, as well as in those of the team. He'll help me build upon my strengths and improve my weak areas. In addition to that, I don't think anyone understands race strategies and tactics better than Johan. Adding that to the work I've been doing with Kim Andersen makes me believe that I'll have the best opportunity yet to stand on the highest podium spot."
2011 Tour de France podium finisher Fränk Schleck understands the importance of a strong team. "We have riders that can perform in the mountains, on the flats, in the sprints, in time-trials. Our strength does not lie in any one individual, but rather the collective team. I think that is what will benefit us the most as we battle our competitors."
Andreas Klöden, the two-time Tour de France runner-up, will enter his fifth season under the guidance of Bruyneel and is no stranger to sharing the leadership. "For me to continue with Johan was an easy decision. Besides the misfortune at the Tour, 2011 was one of my best seasons with victories in numerous races. I have been on teams with other great riders so this situation is not new for me. If the Schlecks have the best opportunity to win the Tour, I will fully support them. If there is an opportunity for me and Johan decides that it gives the team the best chance to win, I will be ready for the challenge. But I have goals in other races as well - either to win for the first time or defend my title."
Also joining Klöden from Team RadioShack is the veteran American rider and 2011 Amgen Tour of California Champion Chris Horner. "2011 had its highs and lows for me. Certainly the crash at the Tour was the lowest point, but I also had one of my career highlights when I won the Amgen Tour of California. That was a very important race not only for me, but also our sponsors and I imagine with our strong American ties that the goal remains the same in 2012. I may be 40 years old, but I believe I have the perfect combination to achieve top results - the motivation of a neo-pro combined with the experiences of a seasoned rider."
The Classics contingent
Fabian Cancellara is the team's undisputable captain for the one-day races. Cancellara, four-time time trial world champion, will lead the team throughout the Spring campaign and aim for victory in his favorite races, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. "I'm a rider that puts a lot of expectations on myself to win. So it was tough for me last year when I didn't win Flanders or Roubaix. Those experiences have made me even more motivated and stronger, both physically and mentally. Besides strong men like Robert Wagner and Joost Posthuma, we’ve added Hayden Roulston and my fellow countryman and friend Gregory Rast to the group of riders for the cobblestone classics. And in the car we'll have Dirk Demol, who was a Paris-Roubaix winner himself. The Classics are still a few months away, but I have no reason not to be confident."
Bruyneel, who has been successful in a long list of stage races, but has only one classic victory in his 13-year directing career, is excited about the potential to add more in 2012. "Fabian is a very special rider. His palmares reads like a cyclist's dream. He's won the time trial world championships four times, national championships, an Olympic gold medal, Tour de France stages, worn the yellow jersey and then victories in Paris-Roubaix, Flanders, Milan-Sanremo. After all these achievements, some riders would lose motivation, but Fabian has that winning drive that lies in all champions. I'm honored and excited to help build upon all his success."
RadioShack-Nissan-Trek is gathering in Calpe, Spain, this week for a December training camp. Another training camp will be held in January on the Spanish island of Mallorca. The team's first race will be the Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia from January 15-22, 2012.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for complete coverage from the RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team camp.
Jan Bakelants (Bel)
Daniele Bennati (Ita)
George Bennett (NZl)
Matthew Busche (USA)
Fabian Cancellara (Swi)
Laurent Didier (Lux)
Jakob Fuglsang (Den)
Tony Gallopin (Fra)
Linus Gerdemann (Ger)
Ben Hermans (Bel)
Chris Horner (USA)
Markel Irizar (Spa)
Ben King (USA)
Andreas Klöden (Ger)
Tiago Machado (Por)
Maxime Monfort (Bel)
Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita)
Nelson Oliveira (Por)
Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr)
Joost Posthuma (Ned)
Gregory Rast (Swi)
Thomas Rohregger (Aut)
Hayden Roulston (NZl)
Andy Schleck (Lux)
Fränk Schleck (Lux)
Jesse Sergent (NZl)
Jens Voigt (Ger)
Robert Wagner (Ger)
Oliver Zaugg (Swi)
Haimar Zubeldia (Spa)
General Manager: Johan Bruyneel
Team Directors: Kim Andersen, José Azevedo, Dirk Demol, Alain Gallopin, Luca Guercilena & Lars Michaelsen