|Paris - Nice, The First Big Race of the Season
After the podium sweep in Tour Méditerranéen, an almost identical team of CSC riders are getting ready for the first big race of the season, the Paris – Nice, which begins on Sunday March 7th.
Jakob Piil and Fränk Schleck will replace Kurt-Asle Arvesen and Andrea Peron, but apart from this, the team is exactly the same as in Tour Med, where Jörg Jaksche took the overall victory ahead of team mates Ivan Basso and Jens Voigt.
Now the question is, whether Team CSC fans should be worried about Jaksche and co. peaking too early in the season?
”I definitely don't think so,” says sports director Kim Andersen, who alongside Bjarne Riis is in charge of the team at Paris – Nice. ”The latest training camp has shown both Jaksche, Voigt and Julich to be in great shape, and they all have a chance of winning this race.”
During the first training camp, Jaksche was more or less singled out as captain at the Paris – Nice, but it now looks like he will share the captaincy with Voigt and Julich. The sports directors will then evaluate their shape on a daily basis.
”The initial 13 kilometers time trial in a not entirely flat terrain could create big time differences among the main contenders, and I believe both Voigt and Julich have a good chance of making the top 10 here. You also have to keep in mind, that none of the stages this year have a mountain top finish, which makes it harder for the best climbers to create big differences in the mountains,” Kim Andersen predicts.
According to the Danish sports director, the Team CSC riders actually have to be more careful in the flat stages.
”I don't think anyone is faster than us in the mountains, especially when you take a look at our riders for this race. So Bjarne and I have to keep the riders informed about strong crosswinds, which could split the peloton in an otherwise predictable situation,” Andersen explains.
Already on Friday, several riders will travel to Chaville to meet Kim Andersen and Bjarne Riis in order to check out the time trial route.
”We wont run the risk of having worn out riders ahead of such a big task, and we'll attempt to prepare them as well as possible for the time trial, which as mentioned can be of great importance in this years Paris – Nice,” Kim Andersen maintains.
Last year the race was won by Alexandre Vinokourov. He dedicated the victory to his friend, Andrei Kivilev, who died a tragic death after a crash in stage 2.
Other main contenders are Laurent Brochard (ag2r), David Millar (Cofidis), Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulangere), Sandy Casar (fdjeux.com), Dave Bruylandts (Chocolade Jacques), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo) and Tyler Hamilton (Phonak).