Bjarne Riis expects more from his team in 2012. Although the Saxo Bank boss was “generally” satisfied with his team in 2011, he said that upon occasion “I would have liked a little more.”
It was not a bad year for the Danish team, as Alberto Contador won the Giro d'Italia, Nick Nuyens took the Tour of Flanders and JJ Haedo won a stage at the Vuelta a Espana. Still, the team had only 18 wins on the year, fourth fewest of the ProTour teams.
“Generally, I want to have more results. Generally, I have been pleased with the fine season, but there have been situations where I would have liked a little more,” he told the Ritzau news agency.
For 2012, “I want more aggression. I want them to go out to die with their shoes on. Here I am talking not about the sprinters, but generally all of them together, for now we just fight a little more for it.”
It may well in fact be a make-or-break year for some riders. Some are in the grey zone, “and if they want to proceed with their careers, they must deliver something,” he said,w without naming names.
For the team as a whole, “Either they must be indispensable domestiques, or they have to go out and deliver results now and then. In each case, they must go out and try.
“That its the spirit I would like to see a little more. It's not that I've been out with my finger pointing, but there have been instances where I think they should give a little more effort.”
One rider who was named was sprinter Haedo, whose victory on a crash-marred stage 16 of the Vuelta was one of only three wins all season. One of the others was a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico.
“I was really unsure if I should keep JJ Haedo. It's not that I doubt his abilities, but I was not sure that I got the most out of it,” Riis said.
“He may not have gotten the support he deserves. It is always a problem when you have a team like we have, where you focus on classics and stage races.
However, he also put part of the blame on the Argentinian sprinter. “He has not been good enough to use his help from the other riders and teammates as he really should do.”
Haedo can be “among the best sprinters in the world,” but he is also “totally explosive,” which works against him. “Sprinters are often very spontaneous, and he has the southern blood and temperament, and so on. It should also be controlled. It must be used properly. There are more things in it.”
With his stage wins in Spain and Italy, Riis said that Hado has show that “he is able to win big races. But it is a question of commitment. I think that a guy like him should have more wins.”