After strong performances in recent weeks in Roubaix and Flanders, but still missing a big win in spring, T-Mobile's last chance to secure a Classic will be this Sunday at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
With two top 10 places to his name in past editions of "La Doyenne", 25 year-old Matthias Kessler is one rider the team believes can do well, but T-Mobile press officer Luuc Eisenga said in a team statement virtually the entire team has 'carte blanche' [free reign] to try their own luck: "The Liège-Bastogne-Liège parcours suits Matthias down to the ground, but so far this week, he hasn't been able to fully show what he is capable of," said Eisenga. "Let's see how the race unfolds, before we know who is riding for who."
One rider that could make the most of the team's 'dark horse' status is Stefen Wesemann, who took things slightly easier in Wednesday's La Flèche Wallonne. "I am an underdog in this race and I want to make the most out that. My main priority is to ride a good race and do my best for the team," said Wesemann.
While Alexandre Vinokourov is also riding well, Eisenga said the 30 year-old rider from Kazakhstan has now switched his focus to the Tour de France: "Vino has one eye on the Tour now, so we are not expecting him to go all out here. We have a lot of good riders in the roster, but we don't count [him] among the pre-race favourites."
The T-Mobile spokesperson also believes Liège to be the toughest of all the five monuments, with the change in the finishing parcours a few years back making it even tougher. "A few years ago, the finish was moved from Liège to Ans, and the final climb there has toughened up the race even more. You can't win this race by fluke," he said.
Team roster: Giuseppe Guerini, Matthias Kessler, Andreas Klöden, Bram Schmitz, Oscar Sevilla, Alexander Vinokourov, Christian Werner, Steffen Wesemann
Directeur-sportif: Mario Kummer