Fabian Cancellara has insisted that his new Leopard-Trek team will have to prove its credentials on the road before it can be lauded as the best team in cycling. The Swiss rider was speaking after the team’s launch in Luxembourg on Thursday.
“A dream team? What is a dream team?” Cancellara mused. “The dream would be that everything would be in perfect, but in life nothing is perfect. But for me, [joining Leopard-Trek] was the right decision, it’s the right place to be to perform. We are ready now but it’s only at the end that you can say if it’s a dream team."
“Brian Nygaard and Kim Andersen have really started something special, new and really cool. Everything has gone well so far, but that’s the business part. Now it’s up to us riders, and I think we’ll get some great results.”
Cancellara is one of eight riders to have joined the new set-up from the Saxo Bank squad, while the management duo Nygaard and Andersen also worked on the Danish team. However, Cancellara is adamant that Leopard-Trek is a completely new entity in the professional peloton.
“This is not Saxo Bank, it’s something brand new,” Cancellara explained. “It’s based in Luxembourg. It’s not Fränk and Andy Schleck's team, it’s a Luxembourg team and we’re all team members. We’ll do everything we can and we'll show that we are our own team and we have our own way, and that we don’t have to copy Bjarne or HTC or Sky. Everybody has to do their own job and we’ll set about doing that in the right way."
Cancellara confessed that he was initially surprised to hear that Nygaard had been approached to head up the new Luxembourg-based team. The Dane heads up the squad with no previous management experience, but had stints as press officer at both Saxo Bank and Team Sky.
“I was in a way surprised, but in the end he had this opportunity and he’s taken it,” Cancellara said. “Maybe he’d never have had an opportunity like this again, and I think he’s the right man in the right place. I’m really happy because we’ve worked together before.”
Breaking with Bjarne
In spite of enjoying the most successful spell of his career under Bjarne Riis’s management, Cancellara is happy with his decision to move to Leopard-Trek. The quadruple world time trial champion is also confident that his personal relationship with Riis will remain intact.
“I had to make my own decision on the way that I wanted to go and Saxo Bank was no longer my direction,” he said. “This year we will see on the road, but for me nothing will change. He will always be Bjarne to me. He did nothing wrong against me and I did nothing wrong against him.”
Turning to matters on the road, Cancellara hinted that while adding Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Lombardy to his palmares remains an objective, his 2011 spring campaign is likely to be built around the cobbled classics once again.
“Winning all five monuments is a goal, not a dream,” he said, admitting that it may not necessarily happen this season. “The programme is planned until Amstel. I’m planning to be in big form on the start line in Milan, Bruges and Compiègne, along with the rest of the team. I still have Lombardy and Liège in my head, but there is time.”
The world championships road race is another title that Cancellara has long coveted. This year’s course in Copenhagen may well be to his liking, but he acknowledged that there is a lot of business to attend to before autumn comes around.
“There are many races I’d like to win, but maybe the one I’d like to win most is the last one at the end of the year, the Worlds,” he said. “But there’s a lot of work to do before that, other goals, other races that I will focus on. Right now it’s time to create good form in the next few months in time for Flanders.”
Cancellara also echoed the opinions of the majority of his teammates at Thursday’s launch when he said that he was glad the speculation surrounding the team name had been put to bed and that the riders could now get on with the task in hand.
“All the speculation is done with and now we can go out on the road and show what we can do.”