Saunier Duval-Scott Directeur Sportif Joxean 'Matxin' Fernández is optimistic about the season ahead, despite admitting it will be difficult for the Spanish outfit to reach the success it enjoyed in 2007 due to some key losses from its roster. The team, which held its presentation at the Nazaries Hotel in Granada yesterday, has lost top riders like David Millar (Team Slipstream) and Gilberto Simoni (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) this season.
"It won't be easy, because to clinch 29 wins as we did in 2007 means we'll have to work very hard," Matxin said. "Moreover, it'll be complicated for us as we've chosen younger riders, nine of which are under 24."
Matxin is hopefully the young age of his outfit will not result in less victories for the Spanish ProTour squad in 2008, saying that he hopes the lack of big names will motivate the younger riders to come out of the shadows and give their all. "I really believe our team is better than the 2007 squad, with fewer big names but stronger as a group," he said. "We've lost important men like Millar, Simoni or Ventoso, granted, but we'll have a more cohesive group. Above all, we'll have to boost our young guns' confidence. Otherwise, they'd feel overshadowed by the leaders. To be sure, this team includes some of tomorrow's cycling stars."
With the lack of big named riders, Riccardo Riccò aside, to carry the squad through the massive Grand Tours in Italy, France and Spain, Matxin says his outfit will be aiming for victory in any race it enters. "We'll have a couple of riders fighting for victory in each race, starting with the Tour Down Under (Australia), the Tour de San Luis (Argentina), and the Tour of Qatar, our first events of the season, beginning in ten days," he said. "Naturally, the focus will be on the Grand Tours. Although it may seem that our chances are slim because we don't have a clear leader, I trust Gómez Marchante and Cobo for the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España; Piepoli, of course, for the Vuelta and the Giro d'Italia; and especially Riccò for the Giro."
Saunier Duval-Scott for 2008: Raúl Alarcón (Spa), Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), José Alberto Benítez (Spa), Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Iker Camaño (Spa), David Cañada (Spa), Eros Capecchi (Ita), Ermanno Capelli (Ita), Juan José Cobo (Spa), David De La Fuente (Spa), Jesús Del Nero (Spa), Arkaitz Durán (Spa), Alberto Fernández De La Puebla (Spa), Denis Flahaut (Fra), José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa), Ángel Gómez Gómez (Spa), Héctor González (Spa), Beñat Intxausti (Spa), Josep Jufré (Spa), Rubén Lobato (Spa), Javier Mejías (Spa), Manuele Mori (Ita), Luciano Pagliarini (Bra), Aurélien Passeron (Fra), Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) and Riccardo Riccò (Ita).