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Gert Steegmans (Radioshack) rises above the peloton.
Bruyneel says stage races remain team goal, sprint wins are welcome bonus
RadioShack team manager Johan Bruyneel has made it clear the team will keep its focus on general classification victories, despite bringing sprinter Gert Steegmans into its roster for 2010. The Belgian said while Steegmans will get some protection in races from the squad, he won’t benefit from a HTC-Columbia- or Team Sky-like lead-out train.
"I think it would be too big of a change our whole dynamic and strategies to work around a sprinter because I think we’ve proved we can do what we do in the stage races so let’s try to keep doing that," said Bruyneel. "Then, if we have a sprinter on the team who can win a race now and then that’s a good extra and very welcome.
"We have Steegmans on the team and of course when we got him on board we told him ‘you’re going to get some protection but this is not a team which is known to be a team for the lead-out train’," he added.
Despite the lack of a lead-out Bruyneel expects Steegmans will still be able to win races for the squad. He said the team’s focus will remain on general classification success, with Bruyneel having overseen a total of nine Tour de France victories.
"You have to make choices and obviously we have Gert on the team, but I’ve said and will say it again, he’s a sprinter that when he’s in good shape and the conditions are right he can beat any of the strong sprinters," he said.
"Having said that, we’re a team that’s more focused on stage races. You have to make a choice. We can have a few guys leading him out, protecting him or bringing him to a good position, but we will never be a team – as long as we have those ambitions for the big tours – that is centred around a sprinter because you have to sacrifice so many other things.
"If you look at, for example, a team like Columbia they have a team that is really centred around André Greipel and Mark Cavendish. They have some good general classification guys who can finish top-five, like Michael Rogers, but it’s not their main goal. It’s natural that they are one of the strongest teams in this discipline and that our goals are [different]."
Steegmans joined RadioShack after having his contract with Katusha dissolved mid-season last year. Steegmans refused to sign the Russian squad’s new anti-doping charter, which required any rider found in violation of the charter to pay a substantial monetary fine to the squad.