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Giro Teams: Credit Agricole
By Staff
Date: 5/7/2005
Giro Teams: Credit Agricole

By Jan Janssens

What do you do when your sprinter can’t beat Petacchi? You bring more sprinters! At least, that seems to be the logic behind the line-up of quite a few teams that are looking for a stage win in this year’s Giro. And the Crédit Agricole team for the 2005 Tour of Italy is no stranger to this concept!

The sprinting dynamite they’re providing will be Estonian veteran Jaan Kirsipuu and New-Zealander Julian Dean. Kirsipuu already proved last year that he knows all about sprinting-one-twos, when he and his then team-mate Jean-Patrick Nazon managed to surprise the superstars of the sprint in the 1st and 3rd stage of the Tour. While he’s gradually becoming more of a tough classics man than a sprinter, Kirsipuu remains a force to be reckoned with in a mass sprint, especially when the sprint goes slightly uphill and he can put his brute force to good use. Dean is probably one of the most underrated sprinters in the peloton: during most of the season he sacrifices his own chances to bring Thor Hushovd into the best possible sprinting position. Hushovd’s absence might prove to be something of a release to him, but question remains how exactly this one-two with Kirsipuu will work; hopefully for Dean he won’t just be doing the same chore for a different master. Only a few days until we know the answer to that!

There are two other riders on the squad that have enough sprinting experience to assist those two fast men, if they shouldn’t be able to pull it off between the two of them: Bradley Wiggins and Patrice Halgand. Wiggins is apart from that also one of the top favourites for the super-short Giro prologue –he’s an Olympic track gold winner, in case you shouldn’t know. Halgand for his part is one of the most remarkable riders in the peloton – he absolutely detests training - and capable of holding his own on just about every terrain. While he can pose as a stand-in to help Kirsipuu & Co., it’s much more likely that this road captain will be granted a free role within the team.

Would you look at that, I’ve managed to write quite a bit about the farm-bank-boys without mentioning their major player for the overall ranking in this Giro, Pietro Caucchioli. Apart from having a diabolically hard to spell name, this man is a top-notch climber who’s always ready to show himself in the biggest race of his homeland. With an 11th place in last year’s Tour, Pietro should be able to get a top 10 placing for himself in this Giro, should that be his goal. He will be assisted in the mountains by no less than 4 young riders!

Those are Frenchmen Cristophe LeMével and Yannick Talabardon, Kazach Dmitriy Muravyev and Italian Francesco Bellotti. The first three of them are young riders that have shown some promise in stage races, but Bellotti is more of a one-day man. This Giro will be their opportunity to grow and test their strengths, asides from helping Caucchioli as much as they can. It might be good to know that Muravyev is a time-trial specialist and a (big) longshot for the prologue.

Even though Crédit Agricole has a great rider for the overall in their team in Pietro Caucchioli, it seems that their team is gravitating towards sprinting rather than climbing. Not that Kirsipuu and Dean have been assigned a lot of sidekicks, quite the contrary really, but it doesn’t bode well that most if not all of Caucchioli’s mountain support comes from a pack of youngsters. Promising as they may be, you never know how they will cope with the stress of a grand tour. So expect this to be a team of bursts of talent in every aspect of the race: Kirsipuu & Dean in the sprints, Wiggins in the prologue, Muravyev in the time trials, Caucchioli in the mountains and Halgand, well, wherever he thinks it possible.

Crédit Agricole

Jaan Kirsipuu (Est)
Julian Dean (NZl)
Pietro Caucchioli (Ita)
Francesco Belotti (Ita)
Cristophe LeMével (Fra)
Yannick Talabardon (Fra)
Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz)
Bradley Wiggins (GBr)
Patrice Halgand (Fra)

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