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Pro Tour Teams of 2008
Preview of the 2008 Protour Teams

Team Milram
2008 could perhaps be a tough year for Milram - although they have two of the best modern sprinters in their squad in Zabel and Petacchi they are aging, and it will soon be discovered how their legs are holding up. They will be looking to Ghisalberti for leadership once the road turns upwards but it appears he won't have the quality assistance he would require to achieve the results that he potentially could.


Team Quickstep
More of the same for Quickstep in 2008 with a few notable exceptions - they will be strong as ever throughout the cobbled classics and Boonen will be right in the mix when it comes time to chase green at the Tour de France while once again World Champion Paolo Bettini will continue his efforts in the hills, albeit under a suspicious cloud. However with the addition of Vladmir Efimkin to their ranks and Stijn Devolder's notable performance in the 2007 Vuelta it appears that they will no longer focus specifically on cobbles and sprints to get Protour points. It is time for Steegmans to step out of Boonens shadow and for young sprinter Davide Vigano to have a breakthrough.


Silence Lotto
The main question for Lotto and its new partner Silence this year is whether they can take Cadel Evans one step better to claim the yellow jersey on the Champs Elysse and they have certainly taken a neccesary step with the recruitment of Yaroslav Popovych to guide him through the mountains. I would imagine that Popovych would also lead a squad to either the Giro or the Vuelta. As usual Hoste will lead a talented cobbles squad although he may no longer have the legs to beat the new generation of Cancellara and Boonen. After his disappointment last year Robbie McEwen will be seeing green although his team will most likely have shifted its focus to a bigger goal. Australian cyclist Matthew Lloyd is developing quickly and may also feature in Cadels climbing efforts.


Team CSC
CSC once again have a very strong all round squad, with competitive leaders for all important races. Andy Schleck will have high hopes for the year after his Giro performance, however, for me he will not achieve a result as good as that again this season. His older brother will be one of the favorites for the likes of the Amstel Gold Race and L-B-L and will perform well in one of the grand tours - probably that French one where Carlos Sastre will not make the podium once again. Cancellara will continue his domination of time trials but will not live up to his reputation this cobbles season where his younger team mate Breschel will make himself known finally. The older generation of CSC riders still have some talent among them however big Jens won't be seeing the results he is used to continuing while Stuart O'Grady no longer seems to have the legs for mass sprints.


Caisse D'Epargne
Karpets, Pereiro Sio, Sanchez Gil and Valverde already made up an intimidating combination in the mountains and with the addition of young star Uran this will continue. Valverde will wear yellow if he has not been suspended and Karpets will have more success then in previous years. The game is up for Pereiro in my opinion but don't write off an inspired performance in the Vuelta from the Spaniard.


Euskaltel Euskadi
Perhaps the fact that they no longer have to embarass themselves in the Giro and on the cobbles will inspire the all spanish team but the only two who will bring the results that they should are Samuel Sanchez and Zubeldia.


Saunier Duval
The Saunier Duval team should have high hopes for 2007, they have a lot of young talented riders as well as the experience of the likes of Piepoli and Gomez Marchante. It will be interesting to see the direction that the careers of Ricco and Cobo Acebo are directed in; this year we will discover where they and their team want them to ride, whether it be in stage races or classics, mountains or hills etc.


AG2R La Mondiale
Surely this year must be better then last for AG2R and their squad certainly seems an improvement, Valjavec and Efimkin should be able to bring some results however i wouldnt expect anything astonishing. The old hands of Dessel and Calzati will continue to do what they have done for the last couple of years - with spirited performances - in breakaways or otherwise in the big races although the results may be hard to come by.


Bouygues Telecom
While AG2R has tried to buy talent to improve their squad Bouygues hasnt bothered for some inexplicable reason. I can only see them having a season that will make young Russian recruit Yuri Trofimov wish that he had never decided to join the French team.


Cofidis Le Credit Par Telephone
Much the same as Bouygues for Cofidis this year although they do have the riders in Nuyens and Scheirlincx to make some sort of impression on the cobbles although they probably. Expect to see Chavanel in a few mountain jerseys here and there as well as potentially picking up a minor tour somewhere.


Credit Agricole
One of the better looking French sides Credit Agricoles hopes lie squarely on the broad shoulders of Thor Hushovd for this season. Brit Jeremy Hunt will also bring results and i expect to see Saul Raisin climbing better then ever as he matures although we shouldn't expect results from him yet - nor Fofonov.


Francaise de Jeux
A promising squad that will show their talent this year. Expect to see Sebastian Chavanel right up there in the sprints - perticularly in races when the big boys aren't around. Di Gregorio is a promising climber although he is still to young to expect big results from although you never know. Sany Casar and Phillipe Gilbert will bring victories as ever, Gilberts ability to breakaway in the closing kilometres is particularly impressive.


Gerolsteiner
The German team boasts an impressive squad in particular areas Forster and young German/Australian talent Heinrich Haussler in the sprints - expect to see Haussler up there with the likes of Boonen and McEwen this year. Schumacher, Rebellin and Wegman form an incredibly imposing hills unit blending experience and talent - the three will feature prominently in all of the hilly classics while Bernhard Kohl wil continue to impress with his climbing and Sebastian Langs Time Trialling may close the gap on that of Cancellara.


Team High Road
The old T-mobile sqaud doesn't feel much different after a year gone past. A strong cobbles squad of Eisel, Hammond and Burghardt will be strengthened by the addition of Big George Hincapie although his best days are most definitely behind him. Expect Rogers to be there abouts in the mountains and TTs although i would be very surprised to see a podium in any of the grand tours. Ciolek and Eisel will be sprinting to regular top tens while Kirchen may or may not be able to challenge in the spring classics against strong competition


Lampre
Lampre will do what they always do - Cunego for the Giro - a moderately strong cobbles team - and be present in most sprints, Napolitano may be able to challenge for sprinters jerseys in the big PT races this year.


Liquigas
A young but talented climbing squad for the 08 season with the likes of Kreuziger, Pellizoti and Santaromita to try and climb their way into a few jerseys. Pozzato should achieve a podium place in Paris Roubaix as well as a few sprnt victories to share with Bennati. Personally however I dont think 2008 will be a successful year for Liquigas with victories hard to come by.


Astana
After what could olny be described as a turbulent 2007 Astana was extremely fortunate to inherit most of Team Discovery Channels riders. This has made them one of the strongest teams on the tour and will feature in all 3 grand tours and most other big races. Contador will go close to back to back Tours and could be ably supported by any one of his teams pool of climbers including Colom, Leipheimer (no push over himself when it comes to the TDF), Paulinho and Brajkovic - not to mention Kloden. Although expect many of these riders to win there own races when they get to lead a team. This is one talented team and the list goes on with Horner and Iglinsky a decent chance for the spring classics although it would be surprising if they podiumed also Tomas Vaitkus will ride well on cobbles and in the sprints as one of the most promising young riders around.


Rabobank
Denis Menchov dominated the Vuelta in 2007 although i am sure he wishes it was the tour de france in which i expect him to again be a top 10 - probably top 5 although a win seems out of the question. The Cobbles captain Flecha is aging but he is young enough to count on for top finishes in the likes of Paris Roubaix and Ronde Vlanderen. Freire still has a mean sprint on him and his strength in undulating terrain will bring his team victories when the other sprinters can't make it to the finish line with the peloton. Young talents Dekker and Gesink should both have good years although Gesink doesn't seem quite ready to start bringing in the big results.
Comments
#1 | SportingNonsense on 27. January 2008 19:12
For High Road, you mention Ciolek and Eisel as the two sprinters... Cavendish is a better sprinter than Eisel and arguably better than Ciolek too.
#2 | dave92 on 27. January 2008 21:09
great article, though I think the basques dreaded the cobbles more than the Giro :lol:
#3 | ruben on 27. January 2008 21:21
Hmm don't underestimate Ciolek, he's very strong, stronger as survivor then Cavendish. Cavendish might be faster, he doesn't have the endurance or power to survive small climbs like Ciolek does. I rate them pretty evenly.
#4 | fefj on 28. January 2008 19:12
I think you forgot Bennati when you said that Liquigas would have a hard time. But apart from that, great article roddaGrin
#5 | chuckie on 28. January 2008 22:41
Eh..............maybe I'm mistaken but didn't pro cycling say raisin retired because he hadn't fully recovered??
#6 | rodda on 29. January 2008 07:34
@chuckie im not sure - but if he has i wasnt aware of it at the time Wink
#7 | Addy291 on 29. January 2008 16:14
I thought that he wanted to get back into racing but Credit Agricole said that they didn't want him to as it's too risky for him.
#8 | chuckie on 01. February 2008 21:08
Not sure............but he married David Zabriskie's Sister recently...so he should have a happy retirement..Wink
#9 | Tom canning on 11. March 2008 20:11
really good article thx helped a lot
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