Antonio Cruz: Team captain at last

Since Antonio Cruz turned professional in 1999, he has raced for the most dominant US teams, starting with Saturn and more recently with Discovery Channel. Although he is entering into his tenth year of professional racing, 2008 will offer Cruz some new opportunities with the BMC Racing Team. Sarah Bamberger met up with Cruz in Santa Rosa, California, on the last day of BMC's training camp to check in on the transition to his new team, his thoughts on the Tour of California and what happens when training with former team-mate, Levi Leipheimer.

On the last day of the BMC Racing Team training camp, Tony Cruz had a chance to ride with his former team-mate and area local, Levi Leipheimer, who led the team on a ride that included a very technical descent. Although Leipheimer knew the road well, Cruz wanted to push the limits of his new BMC rig and see how fast he could go around a blind curve. Tucking down and diving into the turn, he passed the Astana rider, caught air over a cattle guard and then flew down the descent with utter fearlessness. It might have been a playful rivalry, but Cruz' calm, yet serious and assertive manner will perfectly suit his role as captain of his new team.

Cruz has been a fixture in the US racing scene for nearly a decade, but his role in the European peloton has been mainly that of a domestique. After being put out of work when the Discovery Channel team folded, he found a new home with the BMC Racing Team, which upped its level to the Professional Continental status. Now one of the senior members of the team, Cruz will be tasked with passing on his knowledge while trying to win some races.

To leave a ProTour team for a Pro Conti team is an adjustment for Cruz, but he has faith that the team will grow and bring itself to the highest status in the near future, and he has signed a two-year contract. Confident that he will race major European races with a new team, sponsor, management, and, most saliently, a new role, Cruz looks to his past experiences for guidance.

Continue to the full feature on Antonio Cruz.

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