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Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas)
Italian squad prepares its men for the Tour
Liquigas-Doimo is another team using next week's Tour de Suisse as vital preparation for next month's Tour de France, with 2008 champion Roman Kreuziger the protected rider, ably supported by a gun squad that includes Slovak Peter Sagan.
Liquigas-Doimo directeur sportif Alberto Volpi will be taking Kreuziger, Sagan, Valerio Agnoli, Aliaksandr Kuchynski, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato, Alessandro Vanotti and Swiss rider Oliver Zaugg to Switzerland for the start on Sunday.
"We are starting the race with an assorted squad able to compete on all terrain," said Volpi. "Kreuziger will be our first man for the overall - he arrives at the Tour de Suisse with his condition getting better day by day and may improve as we get closer to the grande boucle."
Volpi added that the team will evaluate Kreuziger's performance without expectations - as a measure of what to work on leading up to the Tour. "At his side will be Sagan, who has been a leading figure with some excellent performances so far; other riders in good shape are Oss and Agnoli. I trust in all athletes: their motivation and condition will make the difference."
Having finished ninth overall in last year's Tour de France, Kreuziger skipped the recent Giro d'Italia and knows that the Swiss race will be vital in preparing for the this year's Tour; he's also aware that he'll have to moderate his efforts. "I'll ride according to how I feel, aware that the distance from the upcoming race could affect my performance," he said.
"After the Tour de Romandie I had to rest to recover from ailments suffered during the race, then climbed the Passo San Pellegrino to address the preparation [for the Tour de Suisse] with my teammates," explained Kreuziger.
"Tests carried out with the [Liquigas-Doimo] trainer [Paolo] Slongo gave me good signs; with these nine stages [of the Tour de Suisse] I can improve the 'shine' and get myself into top condition for the Tour de France," he continued.
Recently Kreuziger spent a day riding some of the Alpine climbs to be used in this year's Tour de France with teammate Ivan Basso and is convinced the experience will serve the Liquigas-Doimo team well come July.
"This Swiss race is a critical step towards that goal [the Tour de France], I understand this after the reconnaissance we did in the Alps on Monday and Tuesday, which was useful experience. The latter I did with [Ivan] Basso and I am convinced that in France the feeling we got from that will be an important weapon for the team."