The powerhouse RadioShack-Nissan-Trek squad has designs on victories in classics and grand tours as it looks forward to the 2012 season.
The team announced its 30-rider roster for 2012 on Monday.
Bringing the Leopard-Trek and RadioShack squads together left general manager Johan Bruyneel with 42 riders — 12 over the limit for a WorldTour team — and he said that deciding who stayed and who didn’t “was a tougher task that I’ve ever experienced.”
With the team down to fighting weight Bruyneel is looking forward to the Tour de France, where Andy and Fränk Schleck, Andreas Klöden and Chris Horner give him more than one card to play.
“It’s too early to decide the complete Tour de France team, but I know we’ll have numerous riders who can compete for the top podium step in Paris,” he said. “Certainly Andy has come the closest, as he has finished second the past three years. I’m excited to work with him and Fränk, two talented and successful riders.”
Andy Schleck said he had felt “a bit unsure” about how things would play out under the new management structure but now thinks Bruyneel will help make him a stronger grand-tour contender.
“(I)t’s very clear that having him lead this team is in my best interests, as well as in those of the team,” Andy Schleck said. ” He’ll help me build upon my strengths and improve my weak areas.”
Brother Fränk says the depth of the squad will be its strength in 2012.
“We have riders that can perform in the mountains, on the flats, in the sprints, in time trials,” he said. “Our strength does not lie in any one individual, but rather the collective team.”
Klöden, a two-time Tour de France runner-up, concurred.
“I have been on teams with other great riders so this situation is not new for me. If the Schlecks have the best opportunity to win the Tour, I will fully support them. If there is an opportunity for me and Johan decides that it gives the team the best chance to win, I will be ready for the challenge.”
As for Horner, the 2011 Amgen Tour of California champion is ready to race after a season of highs and lows.
“Certainly the crash at the Tour was the lowest point, but I also had one of my career highlights when I won the Amgen Tour of California. That was a very important race not only for me, but also our sponsors and I imagine with our strong American ties that the goal remains the same in 2012,” he said.
“I may be 40 years old, but I believe I have the perfect combination to achieve top results — the motivation of a neo-pro combined with the experiences of a seasoned rider.”
When it comes to the one-day races, Fabian Cancellara will be the team’s undisputable captain. The four-time world time trial champion will aim for victory in his favorite races, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
“I’m a rider that puts a lot of expectations on myself to win. So it was tough for me last year when I didn’t win Flanders or Roubaix. Those experiences have made me even more motivated and stronger, both physically and mentally,” he said.
Backing him up will be the likes of Robert Wagner, Joost Posthuma, Hayden Roulston and Gregory Rast.
“And in the car we’ll have Dirk Demol, who was a Paris-Roubaix winner himself. The classics are still a few months away, but I have no reason not to be confident,” added Cancellara.
The team has a pair of preseason training camps scheduled — the first this month in Calpe, Spain, and the second in January on the Spanish island of Mallorca. RadioShack-Nissan’s first race will be the Santos Tour Down Under January 15-22 in Adelaide, Australia.
RadioShack-Nissan-Trek for 2012
- Jan Bakelants (BEL)
- Daniele Bennati (ITA)
- George Bennett (NZL)
- Matthew Busche (USA)
- Fabian Cancellara (SUI)
- Laurent Didier (LUX)
- Jakob Fuglsang (DEN)
- Tony Gallopin (FRA)
- Linus Gerdemann (GER)
- Ben Hermans (BEL)
- Chris Horner (USA)
- Markel Irizar (ESP)
- Ben King (USA)
- Andreas Klöden (GER)
- Tiago Machado (POR)
- Maxime Monfort (BEL)
- Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA)
- Nelson Oliveira (POR)
- Yaroslav Popovych (UKR)
- Joost Posthuma (NED)
- Gregory Rast (SUI)
- Thomas Rohregger (AUT)
- Hayden Roulston (NZL)
- Andy Schleck (LUX)
- Fränk Schleck (LUX)
- Jesse Sergent (NZL)
- Jens Voigt (GER)
- Robert Wagner (GER)
- Oliver Zaugg (SUI)
- Haimar Zubeldia (ESP)
- General manager: Johan Bruyneel
- Team directors: Kim Andersen, José Azevedo, Dirk Demol, Alain Gallopin, Luca Guercilena and Lars Michaelsen
- Press officers: Philippe Maertens and Tim Vanderjeugd