By Jakob Duma
Put together a former Tour de France winner with a highly astonishing
cycle-philosophy and some very untraditional training methods and put him in the
manager seat, then add a former lieutenant of the Current "Tour King" and one of
the major animators so far this season, with victories in Liege-Bastogne-Liege
and the Tour Of Romandie, sum it up with a young Spanish climber with enough
potential to become a major GC threat in any Grand Tour himself over the next
couple of years to come, add in a homogeneous group of loyal domestiques willing
to sacrifice any chance of their own, to be at complete service for the
designated team leaders, and then you have the secret ingredients for success in
the worlds biggest cycle event??
Well, no doubt Team CSC for sure is hoping for it. Their ambitions are high
and yet modest, the success criteria has been set and the overall classification
is without a doubt the team’s number one priority in this year's 100th
anniversary of Le Tour de France - two men in the Top10 GC, and hopefully one
rider in the Top 5 is the ambition, and both the team and team director Bjarne
Riis are confident that the ambition is going to get fulfilled.
Tyler and Carlos checking the Tour route in May. Courtesy CSC.
Born: 1st March 1971, USA
Height: 1.72 metres. Weight : 62 kg.
Ever since Tyler chocked up a final victory in Tour of Romandie in early May,
just a week after his triumph in Liege, the Tyler-mania has hit Europe hard;
people even started to ask each other, can he maybe challenge Lance for real,
come early July? Well!! No doubt Tyler's got it all, he’s a good climber, an
excellent time triallist, and has an extraordinary recovery ability. Just look
at his Palmares if any proof is necessary; he’s won on top of Mont Ventoux (in
Dauphine Libere 2000), won a time trial in last year's Giro D´Italia, he even
finished second on GC despite his famous broken shoulder, I still even tend to
argue with people who lash out and say that Tyler had never every finished on
the Podium in the Giro - had G. Simoni and Co. not been thrown out of the
race, and always need to remind them that just before Tyler crashed and broke
his shoulder on stage 5, he was in fact the only rider able to hold the wheels
of G. Simoni, F. Casagrande and S. Garzelli, on the Colletto del Moro, which
with out a doubt was the steepest climb by far, in the whole 2002 edition of the
So can Tyler really challenge Lance for the top spot in Paris? Probably not!!
Why? Simply because Lance just is operating at a level above all the other GC
top contenders, and nothing indicates that anything is going to change this year
either when the peloton hits Paris on the final day on July 27th, but again who
knows!!!! One thing for sure stands out crystal clear, Tyler is coming to the
Tour, determined and with a whole bag of confidence after a outstanding
spring-campaign, the atmosphere within the squad is excellent, and Tyler has
already indicated that he would like too see out his career within Bjarne Riis´s
Danish team. And let there be no doubt about it at all, Tyler for sure is a one
of a kind unique class act!!!! Reported to be in absolutely top-form for the
Tour, and a top-10 GC spot should be well within his reach, time will tell if
the team’s declared top-5 ambition also will come true on July 27th in Paris.
Born: 22nd March 1975, Spain
Height: 1.73 metres. Weight : 60 kg.
The young Spaniard from El Barraco (Avila), was almost doomed to become a
professional cyclist from a very early age. Even though he started out as a
gymnast in his youth, cycling was always a very big part of young Sastre´s life.
His father (Victor Sastre) runs a cycle-school for young riders in downtown El
Barraco founded by former pro rider Angel Arroyo, and has produced current stars
like F. Mancebo, P.Lastras, and Sastre´s own brother in law, almost forgotten
Spanish top-climber José María Jiménez, whose sister (Piedad) Sastre married on
November 16th (2002) in a religious ceremony in the local church in El Barraco,
with numerous pro riders being on the guest-list, among other Francisco Mancebo,
Mikel Zarrabeitia, Marcelino García, Manuel Calvente, David Navas, Francisco "Curro"
García, and Johnny Weltz (director); all very good friends of Sastre. C. Sastre
is also being reported in top-form and ready for the Tour. Last year the little
climber from El Barraco was 10th in the general classification in Paris, this
year the team will also be hoping for at Top-10 GC spot, but have also declared
that C. Sastre will be used offensively in the mountain stages (like the stage
to La Plagne last year), and by that, also taking some of the heat away from T.
Hamilton who by then hopefully will be sitting comfortably among all the other
major GC contenders, waiting for the "vital" attack. But make no mistake, watch
out for Carlos (!!) during the wonderful month of July.
Born: 14th April 1972, France
Height: 1.73 metres. Weight : 68 kg.
Besides the two absolutely front-figures of the team (Tyler Hamilton and
Carlos Sastre), only two other riders within the team will be labelled with the
famous (Free Role), the one being Jacob Piil, the other being Nicolas Jalabert.
30 year old Nicolas from Mazamet will have to do without his much more famous
big brother (Laurent) this year, and although he most certainly will be
sincerely missed, Nicolas still has been showing good form this season and among
others won (Niedersachsen Rundfahrt), late April, on just finished 9th in the
France national championships on June 29th. Nicolas will be hoping to hit the
right breakaway during one of the rolling stages, and try getting that stage
victory he’s been hunting so desperately since Garcia Acosta robbed him for it
on the Bastille Day back in 2000. But still beside his "Free Role" status,
Nicolas can still be counted on as a deeply loyal Domestique (as always) for his
designated team leaders throughout the entire race.
Born: 14th August 1971, Italy
Height: 1.83 metres. Weight : 70 kg.
The 32 year old Italian from Varese will be a key member of the CSC tour team
when the start kicks off in Paris Saturday afternoon. A former Top-10 Grand Tour
man (back in the 1999 Tour de France and in the 1996 Vuelta a España), A. Peron
has the invaluable routine and experience to provide strong support throughout
the Tour for the Team’s top-guns. In the recent Dauphine Libere, Peron was a
very active and visible player, and showed off his good form, with a couple of
long "Indian attacks" during a couple of hilly stages, before he abandoned
during the last stage. In early June he finished 8th in the Tour of Luxembourg,
after finishing 6th in the time trail. In fact, he also took 9th place in the
33.4km time trail in the above mentioned Dauphine Libere, which with out a doubt
will please his employers since he undoubtedly is one of the most important men
for Team CSC in their search for a strong result, in the mighty important Team
The team testing the TTT course last week. Courtesy CSC.
Born: 14th May 1975, Denmark
Height: 1.82 metres. Weight : 71 kg.
Newly crowned Danish road race Champion Nicky Sørensen cracked the top-20 GC
last year, in his second appearance with the Tour De France. This year his role
will be pretty much like last year, total loyal commitment for the two team
leaders will be his major work criteria, and the always open-hearted Dane is
ready to fulfil his task the best he can. The young Dane also admitted that he
took big pride in wearing his newly won national jersey, and that he will do all
it takes to try to show off (Dannebro) every time the chance should offer
itself. Has been training hard in Tuscany the last week, since wining the
Nationals in Nibe on June 29th, and should be in excellent form when the start
of the millennium Tour de France starts off with the prologue in the streets of
Paris Saturday afternoon.
Born: 17th September 1973, Denmark
Height: 1.78 metres. Weight : 66 kg.
For 29 year old Bekim Christensen the last couple of month has been pure
heaven in regards to the sympathetic Dane’s cycling career. Just a couple of
months ago he was part of the chaotic now former Team Coast, he wasn’t getting
paid and hadn’t been paid for three months, and really didn’t even know if his
cycling career was going to continue. Then mighty CSC boss Bjarne Riis stepped
up to the plate and signed his fellow countryman, gave him his debut in the
Danish outfit in Gippingen, and the chance to ride the Tour of Switzerland the
following day. And indeed Christensen didn’t disappoint, especially during the
Tour of Switzerland; he impressed his new employer with a very solid ride,
earning him a 17th place in the final classification. He also landed himself the
9th and final CSC Tour-team-place, only 1½ months after joining the Danish team.
In France Christensen, will be a key domestique thoughout the race, in what will
be the quiet Dane’s first ever Grand Tour ride, and what a ride it promises to
Born: 13th December 1972, Austria
Height: 1.73 metres. Weight : 59 kg.
Even though he has been in the game for what seems like ages, the little
fragile Austrian mountain goat from Radkenburg, Peter Luttenberger is stil
(only) 31 years old. Once touted as a major rising star, after his 5th place in
the 1996 tour, the little Austrian climber hasn’t been able to live up to that
description. The trouble started in 1997 with a bad move to Dutch giants
Rabobank (that should never had been). His debut season at Rabobank was a
nightmare, a wrong lead up to the Tour, and lots of injury problems. A
dislocated collarbone, knee cartilage problems, didn’t make things easier for
the little Austrian, but however was he still able to finish at a brave 13th
place in Paris. In 1998 He was left out of the Dutch tour with six days to go
before the start of the Tour, and then the Dutch "Adventure" ended on a bitter
note. Since then he has spent two years at Once (which neither was the best
possible team for the likeable Austrian) and two years under the service of
Tacconi Sport, where he has produced a bunch of excellent rides, but never at
the same calibre as he first launched out back in the days of 1996. Now he
represents CSC, brought to provide solid support in the high mountains for the
two team leaders - a job that should suit him well, and without any major
pressure lurking, who knows!! Maybe the tiny Austrian can make a utterly
positive impact during this year's Tour de France.
Born: 9th March 1973, Denmark
Height: 1.82 metres Weight: 67 kg.
For the third time in his career, 30 year old Jacob Piil, will Saturday
participate in the biggest cycle-circus in the world Le Tour de France. The
ambitions? The same as always, to add a stage win to his Palmares. Last year at
stage 18 on a sunny Friday, the blonde Dane literally saw his chance for stage
glory slip away, when pulled his foot out of his pedal within the final sprint
and ending up with a ungrateful third place in Bourg-en-Bresse. The year before
he was beaten by only Serge Baguet on stage 17 into Montluçon, after having been
the major animator in the final breakaway, in what he described as one of the
biggest disappointments of his career at that time. However again this year, the
2002 Paris-Tours winner will have the freedom to go hunting for a stage win, and
didn’t hide his optimism about his chance of doing so at all, in a interview
Thursday afternoon from the obligatory medical check in Paris, where he was
relieved to be in very good shape, and with strong belief that that this year
his ultimate goal of a stage win, very well could become realistic; at least he
promised to try!!
Born: 30th April 1973, Denmark
Height: 1.80 metres Weight: 66 kg.
The final member of CSC Tour de France team belongs to the 30 year old new
Danish Time Trial champion Michael Blaudzun. Son of a former cyclerider and
Olympics bronze medal winner in the national Team-Time-Trial in Montreal in 1976
(Verner Bladzun), M. Blaudzun has always been deeply involved in bike racing.
After a rather anonymous season last year, Blaudzun has slowly upped his
performances so far this season, culminating at the Danish Time Trail
Championships, were he won the gold, after beating Team Fakta´s Jørgen Bo
Petersen by at mere 6 seconds. In France Blaudzun will be a very important
team-member in the search for team success, and especially in the
Team-Time-Trial where he undoubtedly will be a major capacity for Team manager
Bjarne Riis´s Danish equipment.
Team CSC for the Tour de France
71 Tyler Hamilton (Usa)
72 Michael Blaudzun (Den)
73 Bekim Christensen (Den)
74 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra)
75 Peter Luttenberger (Aut)
76 Andrea Peron (Ita)
77 Jacob Piil Storm (Den)
78 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa)
79 Nicki Sørensen (Den)
Directeurs Sportif: Bjarne Riis and Johnny Weltz
Ready to rumble on their new Cervelos -
carbon dreams named the R2.5,
that weigh in at under one kilogram...Courtesy CSC.