Liquigas starts with Di Luca and Pozzato

By Gregor Brown

The 2007 Liquigas team will continue to be led by Danilo Di Luca in the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d'Italia, but the team of Roberto Amadio has made an important signing this off-season. It took on the winner of the 2006 Milan-Sanremo, Filippo Pozzato. Pippo will use his abilities to add fire power in one day races, like Milan-Sanremo.

Di Luca had a massive 2005, winning Amstel Gold and Flèche Wallonne, going well in the Giro and then winning the inaugural ProTour overall classification. In 2006 he devoted himself solely to the Giro but he did not live up to his expectations. He scrabbled for results in the Tour de France, only to come up empty handed, and then ended his season on a slight high note.

"[The tooth problem] affected my condition for the Giro," stated 'The Killer' to La Gazzetta dello Sport during the team's presentation in Milan. "Then there was new problem [prostate - ed.] for the Tour de France, and at the Vuelta a España I did good things, but not like I had hoped."

At the Vuelta, Di Luca captured the stage to Béjar along with the leader's jersey before going on to help Paolo Bettini win the World Championships for Italy. Even though his 2006 did not go the way he had planned, the 31 year-old will stay his course, trying again for his home tour but also giving focus to the Ardennes.

"I am convinced that this is a good decision," he continued regarding the Giro. "I was there in the [2006] races and this race [Giro - ed.] is important. It is true, I am not going to train in Mexico like in 2005, I will stay in Italy, but I will still search for a little bit of what I had done in 2005.

"My objectives in 2005 were the Classics and then came the Giro d'Italia. Again they are two very important objectives. The general classification of the Giro and then the Classics," finished Di Luca, ranking his goals.

Pippo will fire first for the team. Using early season races, he will build his form for Italy's spring classic. "Sanremo will certainly be the most important early objective for Liquigas," confirmed the 25 year-old Italian to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I hope to be strong like last year.

"It is clear it will not be the only objective, it will be one of the first of the season. ... I will do the Tour; a lot better than this year [2006]."

Pippo went well in many stages in last year's Tour, and finished strongly on the last stage in Paris. His riding showed that he is capable of managing himself over a three week race, a consistency that will eventually pay off. "I hope it will go well for some stages and that I can at least get a stage win."

A full team roster can be seen on Cyclingnews' teams database.

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