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CSC-Saxo Bank names Tour squad

No Julich; Sastre, Schleck brothers lead

By Andrew Hood

Julich won't be at the Tour this year

Julich won’t be at the Tour this year

Photo: AFP (file photo)

Bobby Julich won’t be heading back to the Tour de France for another crack at the maillot jaune.

The 36-year-old veteran ? third overall in 1998 ? was left off the nine-man, Tour-bound squad revealed Monday by Team CSC-Saxo Bank.

“I think we could have taken two teams to the Tour de France, with so many good riders to choose from,” said team manager Bjarne Riis on the team’s Web page. “We have taken the nine sharpest riders and we hope we can meet our ambitions with them.”

Julich was hoping for one more shot at the Tour, where he still wanted to win a stage or wear the maillot jaune. He was left off the Tour team last year and knew it would be difficult to make the selection for 2008, the final year of his contract at Team CSC.

“I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the Tour. There are still some goals in my little book that I haven’t put a check next to yet. One of those is winning a stage or wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour,” Julich told VeloNews earlier this year. “It’s a difficult season for me because I’m one of the older guys now. These young guys are getting good really fast.”

Team CSC-Saxo Bank's new jersey design

Team CSC-Saxo Bank’s new jersey design

Photo: courtesy

The Danish team will be a strong, balanced squad led by perennial podium contender Carlos Sastre and the up-and-coming Schleck brothers.

Sastre, awarded third overall in 2006 following the disqualification of winner Floyd Landis, is taking aim for the podium.

“This year is one of the last and best chances for me to do something important in the Tour,” Sastre told VeloNews. “I want to be on the podium or even win. That’s the dream. That’s what we’ve all been working for.”

Despite a horrific crash in the Tour de Suisse, when he fell over a guardrail into a gorge, Fränk Schleck and younger brother Andy are both expected to be factors in the overall.

Fränk pulled out Sunday’s final stage at the Swiss tour to avoid unnecessary risks and said he will visit a chiropractor in Luxembourg this week to help relieve some of the pain that accompanied his horrific crash. Andy, who will make his Tour debut next month, finished second overall in last year’s Giro d’Italia and rode to sixth at the Tour de Suisse.

“With Sastre and the two Schleck brothers, we have three riders who can sit among the best in the mountains and it will be extremely exciting to see how far they can go,” Riis said. “I think we have a team that can be a factor in just about everything. With the results we’ve shown the past month, I am sure we’re bring a top-motivated team and we can look forward to the year’s main goal.”

Back are such animated stage-hunters as the popular Jens Voigt, winner of a stage at this year’s Giro, Fabian Cancellara, winner of two stages at the Swiss tour, and Aussie workhorse Stuart O’Grady, back to full health after suffering a horrendous crash last year in the Alps.

Riis decided to overlook Sastre’s preferred bodyguard, Iñigo Cuesta, and chose instead an in-form Nicki Sørensen, the always-reliable Kurt-Asle Arvesen and quiet domestique Volodymir Gustov.

The team will ride in jerseys featuring the team’s main sponsors, CSC and Saxo Bank, with Saxo Bank taking over as the team’s principle sponsor for 2009 as CSC ends its long-running backing of the team at the end of this year.

Team CSC-Saxo Bank for 2008 Tour de France
Fabian Cancellara (Swi)
Carlos Sastre (Spa)
Andy Schleck (Lux)
Fränk Schleck (Lux)
Nicki Sørensen (Den)
Jens Voigt (Ger)
Stuart O’Grady (Aus)
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor)
Volodymir Gustov (Ukr)

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