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Dekker chooses Cecchini

Dutch talent Thomas Dekker has joined a number high profile riders in their choice of trainer, Italian doctor Luigi Cecchini. "Thomas is a potential Tour winner," said Cecchini in an interview with De Telegraaf. "Therefore I will happily work with him."

Dekker has recently moved to Lago di Camaiore on the Mediterranean coast, where he will be in close contact with Cecchini. "I'm certainly not choosing the easiest way," said Dekker. "But I don't want to reproach myself in a few years that I didn't get the most out of my career. I have the feeling that I'm taking another step in the right direction. For me, what counts the most is a good classification in the Tour de France. I'm not a person to play a supporting role."

Dekker said that he will stay in Italy for long periods of time in the early season, but will return to The Netherlands for training in between races as the year progresses. He plans to work on his climbing by using the Italian terrain, which offers more than the hills in Limburg or the Ardennes. "Here there are cols of 20 kilometres that you can work on to your heart's content."

Cecchini trains many top pros, including Jan Ullrich, Damiano Cunego, Alessandro Petacchi, Juan Antonio Flecha, Kim Kirchen and Fabio Cancellara, and in the past he has looked after Bjarne Riis, Ivan Basso, Tyler Hamilton, Michele Bartoli, Gianni Bugno, Angel Casero, Mario Cipollini, Francesco Casagrande, Fabiana Luperini, Pascal Richard, Max Sciandri, Rolf Sörensen and Andrea Tafi. The 21 year-old Dekker is the latest of these.

"For me it's an honour to work with him," said Dekker. "Ceccho is so driven and has so much passion. I see it as a unique chance. He has 20 years experience...I don't want to betray Cecchini's trust. I want to prove that I'm here on my merits and to reach the top in the coming season."

In response, Cecchini commented, "Of course I don't have all the science to hand and I also can't see into the future. But it is pretty simple to establish that Thomas is a super talent."

Although Cecchini has been investigated by Italian authorities in relation to doping matters, he has no convictions against his name. Dekker is aware of this, and clarified: "I'm only concerned with him on training matters. He is not my doctor, but my trainer. The past few years have seen new times in cycling. Look how easy it is for young riders to reach the top. For me, that is proof that you can win in this sport without doping."