Road

Tuesday’s EuroFile: Quick Step looks to the future; Voeckler sets up for Bouygues; Simoni in Oz

Olympic champion Paolo Bettini, Belgian classics star Tom Boonen and world time trial champion Michael Rogers will headline the Quick Step team in the 2005 season, but the Belgian team is investing heavily in young stars for future success. The 2005 roster was officially unveiled Monday in Belgium with a solid mix of youth and maturity to take over the mantle with the departure of retired stars Richard Virenque and Johan Museeuw. “With the maturity of our young stars and the recruitment of new talent, we will be as strong as we were last year,” said team manager Patrick Lefevere during the

By Andrew Hood

Filippo Pozzato, Nick Nuyens, Rik Verbgrugghe, Michael Rogers, Tom Boonen, Paolo Bettini (front)

Filippo Pozzato, Nick Nuyens, Rik Verbgrugghe, Michael Rogers, Tom Boonen, Paolo Bettini (front)

Photo:

Olympic champion Paolo Bettini, Belgian classics star Tom Boonen and world time trial champion Michael Rogers will headline the Quick Step team in the 2005 season, but the Belgian team is investing heavily in young stars for future success.

The 2005 roster was officially unveiled Monday in Belgium with a solid mix of youth and maturity to take over the mantle with the departure of retired stars Richard Virenque and Johan Museeuw.

“With the maturity of our young stars and the recruitment of new talent, we will be as strong as we were last year,” said team manager Patrick Lefevere during the team presentation. “Quick Step will be one of the top teams in the first year of the Pro Tour.”

Bettini will take over as the team leader, with eyes on stronger performances in the spring classics.

“I feel stronger than ever,” Bettini said. “I want to have a strong, consistent season, but I really want to do well in the Tour of Flanders. Everyone says this is not a race for me, but I want to prove them wrong.”

Boonen, who enjoyed a break-out season in 2004, says he’s ready to pick up the mantle from retired classics strongman Museeuw. At 24, Boonen won 20 races last year, but says he’s ready to win a major one-day title.

“This year, I want to go for a little more quality over quantity,” he said. “Last year, I won 20 races, but this season I will try to win a big race.”

Rogers, meanwhile, will take over as the team GC leader in the major stage races. The Australian all-rounder won the world time trial title in Italy and wants to put all the pieces together for the 2005 Tour de France.

“I will concentrate 100 percent on the Tour. I would like to finish in the top 10 overall,” he said.

Lefevere is also hoping to count on a gang of rising stars to step up, with such names as 24-year-old Nick Nuyens, German Patrick Sinkewitz and Luca Paolini waiting in the wings.

The Belgian team also signed up established stars Rik Verbrugghe, Italian champion Cristian Moreni, Guido Trenti and Filippo Pozzato as well as Dutch rider Mark Lotz.

Quick Step for 2005
Paolo Bettini (ITA)
Tom Boonen (BEL)
Davide Bramati (ITA)
Mads Christensen (DEN)
Wilfred Cretskens (BEL)
Dimitri De Fauw (BEL)
Kevin DeWeert (BEL)
Jose Antonio Garrido (SPA)
Kevin Hulsmans (BEL)
Servais Knaven (NED)
Marc Lotz (NED)
Juan Miguel Mercado (SPA)
Cristian Moreni (ITA)
Nick Nuyens (BEL)
Luca Paolini (ITA)
Jose Antonio Pecharroman (SPA)
Filippo Pozzato (ITA)
Michael Rogers (AUS)
Sebastien Rosseler (BEL)
Patrik Sinkewitz (GER)
Bram Tankink (NED)
Guido Trenti (ITA)
Jurgen Van Goolen (NED)
Rik Verbrugghe (BEL)
Wouter Weylandt (NED)
Stefano Zanini (ITA)
Bouygues goes for youth
Youth and transparency are the underlying themes of the new Bouygues Telecom team unveiled over the weekend in France.

The French telecom company picks up the team managed by Jean-René Bernaudeau (formerly Brioches Boulangere) and wants to tap the enthusiasm engendered during last year’s maillot jaune run by French national champion Thomas Voeckler.

The team enters the Pro Tour with an average age of 25 years, but doesn’t come without a few headlining veterans. Former world champion Laurent Brochard and Didier Rous will lead the way for the young, almost entirely French team. The only foreign rider is Spanish rider Unai Yus.

Voeckler said he will take aim at an early season goal in the spring classics while the team hopes for a strong showing in the Tour, capped by a stage victory.

Bouygues Telecom for 2005
Walter Bénéteau (F),
Giovanni Bernaudeau (F),
Olivier Bonnaire (F),
Franck Bouyer (F),
Laurent Brochard (F),
Anthony Charteau (F),
Sébastien Chavanel (F),
Mathieu Claude (F),
Pierre Drancourt (F),
Pierrick Fédrigo (F),
Yohann Gene (F),
Anthony Geslin (F),
Maryan Hary (F),
Christophe Kern (F),
Laurent Lefèvre (F),
Frédéric Mainguenaud (F),
Rony Martias (F),
Alexandre Naulleau (F),
Mickaël Pichon (F),
Jérôme Pineau (F),
Anthony Ravard (F),
Franck Renier (F),
Didier Rous (F),
Matthieu Sprick (F),
Thomas Voeckler (F),
Unaï Yus (Sp)

Simoni heads Down Under
Two-time Giro d’Italia champion Gilberto Simoni will travel next week to Australia to race in the Tour Down Under (Jan. 18-23) as part of his preparations for a run at the 2005 Giro.

Riding alongside reigning Giro champion Damiano Cunego, Simoni will headline the newly fused team of Lampre-Caffita, which consists of Lampre and the former Saeco team. Simoni says both riders will enter the Giro as co-captains.

“I won the Giro in 2001 with Lampre and 2003 with Saeco, so it would be nice to win again,” Simoni said.

Simoni said race organizers invited him to compete in this year’s Tour Down Under during the 2004 Tour de France, something Simoni said he “gladly accepted.”

“To ride in the heat without a lot of traffic will be useful in my preparations for the big races,” he said. “In Australia, I will find a hard race that’s important for someone thinking about winning Milan-San Remo. As planned, I am a little bit behind in my preparations for the season, but my main goal continues to be the Giro.”

Heras ‘not obsessed’ with Vuelta four-peat
Three-time Vuelta a España champion Roberto Heras says he’s “not obsessed” with winning a record fourth title as he prepares for his 2005 campaign. The Liberty Seguros captain says he’ll aim for a strong performance in the Tour de France before focusing his attention on a run at the Vuelta.

“I’m not obsessed with winning another Vuelta, I just have to keep working like I have up to now,” Heras said on the Spanish wires. “My calendar is set, I will race the Tour and the Vuelta and probably start my season at Setmana Catalana (in March).”

Liberty Seguros will have the added presence of three-time Tour podium man Joseba Beloki, who is trying to recover his steady form a high-speed crash that took him out of the 2003 Tour.

Beloki struggled through the 2004 season, hampered by injuries and an acrimonious departure from the French Brioches team just before the Tour.

“Having Beloki on the team will be a big boost, but we don’t know yet what he can do,” Heras said.