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There have been few changes at RadioShack Leopard as only four new riders have come to the team for 2013, but the biggest change is new team manager Luca Guercilena and a new jersey design that was unveiled in Spain on Friday. The Luxembourg-based team is ready to forget the difficult 2012 season and move on to bigger and better things.
Last season saw Tour de France contender Andy Schleck miss much of the season with a fractured pelvis, and his brother Fränk became embroiled in a doping case, which has still not yet been resolved. Fabian Cancellara missed time with a shattered collarbone. Manager Johan Bruyneel was released from his contract in October due to his involvement in the Lance Armstrong case and co-name sponsor Nissan left the team as well.
But now “it's business as usual for the hard working group at RSLT,” according to the team's press release. The team held its annual presentation Friday in Benidorm, Spain, with those riders in the upcoming Tour Down Under absent.
"We've put in the time and effort during the off season to come together as a team," Guercilena said. “This was important to us as we look to return our riders to their highest level of abilities in 2013. We met with the riders and discussed their ambitions and goals, merged them with those of the overall team, and have established our race calendar for the year."
Andy Schleck was amongst those not in attendance, as he is already in Australia. He is healthy again and looking forward to a Tour de France with more climbs and fewer time trial kilometers, a course which suits him. "I don't know if I can return to the form I saw in 2011, but I'm only 27 and I will do my best to get back to that place. I think I still have many opportunities to win."
2012 was a year of extreme highs and lows for Cancellara, with a crash in the Tour of Flanders knocking him out of the later Spring Classics, and a crash in the finale of the Olympic road race eliminating his medal chances. On the plus side, though, he won the Tour de France prologue and wore the leader's jersey for seven stages, eventually abandoning the race to attend the birth of his second child.
"I can't wait to be back there in the heat of battle once again," said Cancellara. "I've worked so hard during my winter training and I'm certain that with some luck I can get back into the best possible race rhythm."
The team also announced three new partners, with watches being provided by anonimo, cars by Skoda, and cycling shoes from Gaerne.
New to the team this year are Stijn Devolder, Danilo Hondo, Bob Jungels, and Robert Kiserlovski. Six riders left at the end of the 2012 season: Daniele Bennati, Jakob Fuglsang, Linus Gerdemann, Joost Posthuma, Robert Wagner and Oliver Zaugg.