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2009 SUMMARY: Although a victory total of 17 suggests a pretty humdrum year, Liquigas’s green, white and blue colours were hard to miss. Most prominent was Franco ‘Fatal Attraction’ Pellizotti, an irrepressible King of the Mountains at the Tour and stage-winner at the Giro, where he finished third. Team-mate Ivan Basso managed fifth at the Giro and took fourth at the Vuelta, while Roman Kreuziger retained his Romandie title. Both Kreuziger and Vincenzo Nibali slipped into Tour’s top 10 too, finishing ninth and seventh respectively.
LOOKING AHEAD: Team boss Amadio will be hoping Kreuziger and Nibali improve again at the Tour, which would mean them being clearly involved in the battle for podium places. Will Basso also be allowed back to present an impressive three-pronged attack? That decision lies with Tour boss Christian Prudhomme but Basso has yet to convince the world that he’s as good as he was before his ban, despite his insistence his numbers are just as good. Meanwhile, Daniele Bennati’s speed is returning after his injuries. Watch out for his clashes with Petacchi and Cavendish.
THE LINE-UP: Liquigas are sticking with the leaders they’ve got and reshuffling below them. Out go 40-year-old Andrea Noé, cyclo-cross specialist Enrico Franzoi and Sky-bound Kjell Carlström. Their absence will be filled by a lot of neo pros and some lesser-known Italians, particularly all-rounder Mauro Finetto, who impressed with his speed, power and astuteness at the Three Days of De Panne along with stage wins at the Tour of Turkey.
ONE TO WATCH: The pick of the team’s young talent is Slovene Kristjan Koren, who was fifth at the ‘Baby’ Giro last year, winning a couple of stages on the way. More intriguing this year, however, will be seeing how Basso asserts himself in this team now that he’s clearly third in the major tour pecking order. Since his ban, he’s yet to show his storming 2005-06 form. Can he get back there?