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Preview of Team CSC's Tour Team
By Staff
Date: 7/4/2003
Preview of Team CSC's Tour Team

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.

Tyler Hamilton
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 Giro D´Italia.

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.

Carlos Sastre
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.

Nicolas Jalabert
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.

Andrea Peron
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 Time Trial.

The team testing the TTT course last week. Courtesy CSC.

Nicky Sørensen
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.

Bekim Christensen
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 be.

Peter Luttenberger
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.

Jacob Piil
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!!

Michael Blaudzun
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.

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