Alberto Volpi: "Team spirit is strong at Team Barloworld"

The excitement of Hunter after his Tour stage win in 2007

The excitement of Hunter after his Tour stage win in 2007 (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Two weeks before Team Barloworld starts its 2009 season at the Trofeo Costa degli Etruschi race in Tuscany on Saturday, February 7, directeur sportif Alberto Volpi spoke about the season ahead.

"The start of every new season is a bit like the first day at school and every time it's almost like starting from scratch all over again," Volpi said. "I think the secret of Team Barloworld's success is that everybody gives their best and works hard to create a good team spirit. I'm convinced we can be competitive and do well in 2009. We've got some talented young riders who are keen to grow and succeed. We're also optimistic that we can give them an excellent calendar of important races, both one-day classics and major stage races."

Alberto Volpi did not hide his hope that Colombian climber Mauricio Soler can again impress in the mountains and have a successful 2009. "We're optimistic about his comeback. As a directeur sportif, I've seen few riders who can climb as well as Mauricio," Volpi says.

He also revealed that South Africa's Robert Hunter will have a special role in the team this year. "We hope Robert can win sprints yet again but his role within the team is also important. Along with Felix Cárdenas we expect him to be the road captain of the team, both in and out of competition," Volpi said.

"We're also excited about talented young riders, such as Chris Froome and John Lee Augustyn, after their impressive performances in last year's Tour de France, and about British riders Steve Cummings and Geraint Thomas. They're both strong riders, fast finishers and good in time trials."

Volpi is also optimistic about new professional Michele Merlo's prospects. "He's quickly shown he's willing to help the rest of the team but will also know how to take his own chances in some races."

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