Team CSC full of favourites

Although riding in their national colours, Team CSC riders made up three of the top four riders in...

Although riding in their national colours, Team CSC riders made up three of the top four riders in the elite men's time trial last Thursday. In Sunday's blue ribbon event, there's reason to suggest they might be successful yet again, with 12 classy CSC riders lining up for the elite men's road race.

"I think Team CSC has a lot of potential world champions," Norwegian Kurt-Asle Arvesen said in a team statement. "Previously, Karsten Kroon and Fränk Schleck has proved they can win on a course like this one and Stuart O'Grady really looked sharp at the end of the Vuelta.

"If it's a big group in the final, I have to help Thor [Hushovd] in the sprint, but if the peloton is seriously split, we'll have to see how my legs are doing," predicted Arvesen.

Said O'Grady: "I've been focusing on Sunday's world championship for a long time."

"I think I've recovered well from the Vuelta, where I was satisfied with the way I climbed and sprinted. I think the race suits me just fine, but obviously we ride like a team, so if Cadel [Evans] or one of the other guys gets a chance to escape, we play our cards the best possible way," said the Australian.

Lars Bak will have his two Danish team-mates, Nicki Sørensen and Allan Johansen, for company on Sunday, and says it's up to the bigger teams to control the race.

"We have to save our strength as much as we possibly can, so we can't really join one of the early breakaways.

"I believe it'll be up to the Italians to control the race, because it'll be difficult for them to keep Alessandro Petacchi up front all the way to the finish, and even though Bettini and Di Luca can sprint, they'll have a hard time beating guys like Boonen, Valverde, Hushovd and O'Grady," said Bak, who lists Alejandro Valverde as his personal favourite.

"Valverde is a complete rider and I could imagine he wants to retaliate after having lead the Vuelta for so long without ending up as the overall winner," Bak continued. "But O'Grady also impressed me during the final days of the Vuelta; he was up front at some of the big climbs, and as far as I know, the climbs on Sunday suits a rider like him very well."

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