The Caisse d'Epargne cycling team was presented this Wednesday, January 9, at the bank headquarters in Paris. The 2008 squad counts a total of 26 riders, with eight newcomers rounding out the outfit for its season objectives, namely the stage races, the Tour de France and the Olympic Games.
The leader of the Spanish team, Alejandro Valverde, expects the new season to be a successful one: "My personal preparation and goals will be slightly different from last year because I will mostly concentrate myself on the second part of the season," he announced. "Our team is a very strong one, reinforced by some very talented riders' arrival. That is very important considering the work the team will have to achieve throughout the whole season to be present in all the most important races of the calendar."
General team manager Eusebio Unzúe explained that the his goals remained more or less the same from last year, highlighting that "for the second time in a row, the team Caisse d'Epargne won the combined classification of the UCI ProTour. The team 2008 will again try to be in the foreground of all the races in which it will take part. One more time, the stage races will be our priority and we will also try to be key players of the most important classics."
The 2008 Caisse d'Epargne team: David Arroyo, Anthony Charteau (Fra), Arnaud Coyot (Fra), Mathieu Drujon (Fra), Imanol Erviti, Txente García Acosta, Iván Gutiérrez, Joan Horrach, Vladimir Karpets (Rus), Pablo Lastras, David López, Alberto Losada, Luis Pasamontes, Fabien Patanchon (Fra), Oscar Pereiro, Marlón Pérez Arango (Col), Fran Pérez, Mathieu Perget (Fra), Nicolas Portal (Fra), Joaquím Rodríguez, José Joaquín Rojas, José Rujano (Ven), Luis León Sánchez, Rigoberto Uran (Col), Alejandro Valverde and Xabier Zandio.
Watch out for a full feature of the team launch coming up on Cyclingnews.
This year's Liquigas team was also presented yesterday in Bibione, Italy, a town which has become co-sponsor of the squad for 2008. For its fourth year, the team's roster will rely on two leaders, namely Filippo Pozzato and Daniele Bennati. After the departure of Danilo Di Luca to LPR, Pozzato and Bennati will be the riders trying to go for a maximum of victories. General manager Roberto Amadio wants the squad to focus on all race categories, with the Classics remaining a special target, and doesn't fear rivalry between the two leaders.
"The team as a whole remains fondamental," he told Gazzetta dello Sports' Luigi Perna. "With this roster, we have increased our chances to win in Sanremo, Flanders or Roubaix. Between the two [Pozzato and Bennati], the legs will decide who is stronger. I wouldn't have a problem to have Bettini and Boonen in one team, neither."
Alongside Pozzato and Bennati will be Leonardo Bertagnolli, Francesco Chicchi, Murilo Fischer and Vincenzo Nibali, amongst others. For the stage races, Liquigas will count on Manuel Beltran and Andrea Noè, with Franco Pellizotti already a designated captain for the 2008 Giro d'Italia. "Last year, Pellizotti could have made the podium, but he sacrificed himself for Di Luca," said sponsor boss Paolo Dal Lago. "We owe this to him."
The Liquigas team for 2008: Michael Albasini (Sui), Valerio Agnoli (Aurum Hotels), Manuel Beltran (Spa), Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital), Leonardo Bertagnolli, Maciej Bodnar (Pol, Team Moser), Kjell Carlström (Fin), Dario Cataldo, Francesco Chicchi, Claudio Corioni (Lampre-Fondital), Alberto Curtolo (Elite 2), Mauro Da Dalto, Murilo Fischer (Bra), Enrico Franzoi (Lampre-Fondital), Roman Kreuziger (Cze), Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr), Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro), Matej Mugerli (Slo), Vincenzo Nibali, Andrea Noè, Franco Pellizotti, Roberto Petito, Filippo Pozzato, Manuel Quinziato, Guido Trenti, Alessandro Vanotti, Charles Wegelius (GBr) and Frederik Willems (Bel).