Better than ever: Team CSC enters ProTour with tremendous focus for 2005

By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Firenze, Italy

At a low-glitz, high-contact media presentation at Villa Paggeria Medicea in Artimino, Italy, Team CSC unveiled its roster for 2005, a team that looks to be one of the best ProTour teams this year. On a cold and snowy Sunday afternoon in the hills south of Firenze, Cyclingnews spent several hours with all the key members of Team CSC, including team manager Bjarne Riis, team leader Ivan Basso, Americans Bobby Julich and Dave Zabriskie and Jakob Storm Piil among others, to get the lowdown on what's up with Team CSC this season. Inside the villa, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming as CSC's always charming media manager Brian Nygaard made sure everyone got a shot at the CSC stars.

In Part One of our report, Cyclingnews talked extensively to CSC team manager Bjarne Riis in an exclusive one on one interview about how he has created a unique environment for success, as well as his biggest success story, Italian rider Ivan Basso, who had a breakthrough Tour De France last season to finish third in Paris.

Right up front, we asked Riis what his goals were for Team CSC as it embark on its 2005 season and he explained that, "We want to be present all year, to try to perform well in the spring classics, to win the Giro d'Italia and to have a good Tour de France with the strongest team there. Maybe we won't win the Tour, but we'll be there and we'll be in the front." Like his fellow Dane Soren Kierkegaard, who was called an existential humanist because he stressed the power of the individual and sought to put pressure on humans, Bjarne Riis has brought a existential, almost zen-like approach to running a pro bicycle racing team at CSC. Talking to the 1996 Tour De France winner is more like a discussion with the young CEO of a successful high-tech business than someone who runs a bike team. Looking into the intense blue eyes of Bjarne Riis, you become convinced that his approach isn't bs, since he has big time results to back up his talk.

We asked Bjarne about the highly touted "battle" between Cunego and Basso in the upcoming Giro d'Italia, but the Dane chose to take a contrarious perspective, saying "Forget it! That's not what the Giro is about... Everybody is trying to make a big deal out of this, but that's the worst thing you can do. I told Ivan 'we are focusing on the Giro, with or without Cunego, with or without Lance, with or without anybody. We are preparing the best we can for the Giro because we want to win it, and if you want to win it, you have to beat everybody; it doesn't matter who."

Click here for the full report

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