IMAGE BY GARY J. BOULANGER Bjarne Riis’s Team CSC is ripe and ready for action, following a two-week training camp in Gilroy, CA, the garlic capital of the world. And by the relaxed atmosphere surrounding their team press conference Thursday, it’s obvious the boys are ready to race the 2007 Amgen Tour of California this weekend before splintering off to all corners of the earth. Riders on the 27-man CSC roster include Tour de France stage winners Frnk Schleck of Luxembourg and Jens Voigt of Germany, Karsten Kroon of the Netherlands, Stuart O’Grady of Australia, grand tour specialist Carlos Sastre of Spain, and world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland. Of these, Schleck and Sastre won’t be racing in California. Argentinean sprinter JJ Haedo, who won two stages for Toyota-United in 2006, hopes to continue his winning ways in California next week. Amid the tragically hip Europeans, Americans Dave Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde and Bobby Julich go into the ToC with high hopes. Julich and Zabriskie can really light it up against the time trial clock, and Vande Velde is looking stronger than ever. All three placed top 10 in the 2006 ToC. Zabriskie has taken a different approach to the 2007 season. After claiming the silver medal at the world championship time trial in Austria, the Utah native took time off to recover from a heavy-duty 2006, which began on the ToC podium between friend Floyd Landis and teammate Julich. Zabriskie also completed his first Tour de France last year, which he told us “cooked me bigtime.” “In the past I’ve come into the new season swinging, but I’ve taken a much milder approach for `07,” he added. When asked if he’s gunning for the overall in Long Beach February 25, the fit and rested TT specialist smirked and said, “Not sure, really.” Realistically, having the team as stacked as CSC could see any one of his teammates donning the golden leader’s jersey for good. Techno Time A CSC location device system will get a high-speed test during the 2007 Amgen ToC, with a tracking device that allows online viewers to follow the lead cyclists. CSC has developed a wireless global positioning system (GPS) called OmniLocation. Tagged riders and team cars will carry small 80g GPS trackers, communicated through the T-Mobile GSM network. Bookmark www.csc.com/toctracker this Sunday once the race begins in San Francisco at 1pm PST. Fans with Google Earth will be able to download files from the site to watch the race unfold. The online tracker will follow the top five general classification (GC) riders, plus one rider each from Team CSC and T-Mobile. To display the boundaries of the race, three team cars will also be tagged: front of the entourage, one at the rear, and one within the peloton. Riis was all for the new technology. When asked if he thought there might be a technological advantage with this CSC-generated device, Riis was good naturedly cut-off by the ever-enthusiastic Jens Voigt, who said, “Now Bjarne will know when we are chit-chatting with our teammates in the peloton,” to which Riis replied, “Believe me, Jens, I don’t need new technology to know what’s going on; I know what’s happening at all times.” It was obvious by the tight knit organization of team CSC present at the team hotel that Riis has entered into the zone. Looking remarkably tan, fit and somewhat relaxed, the 1996 Tour de France champion blended into the crowd heading for lunch before the second of two team rides Thursday. Riis knows his El Segundo, CA-based title sponsor relishes results, and Riis’s two-year string of being the number one ProTour team doesn’t appear to be broken anytime soon. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.
Team CSC has finished its training camp in California, and is gearing up for the Tour of California,