|Ricardo Ricco won stage 15 at the 2007 Giro (© Heinz Zwicky)
The Saunier Duval - Scott team began their pre-season preparation on january 8, on a misty, cold
morning. The squad will stay in Granada until today. After they arrived at the Andalusian town they trained together on
the first morning for five and a half hours. All 27 riders -including paralympic champion Javier Otxoa- were part of the training
session. They rode over 170 kilometres along Granada´s roads, and climbed 25 kilometres up the Mirador de la Cabra Montés
mountain pass. Only Alberto Fernández de la Puebla didn´t finish the course as a result of a pain in his right vastum muscle,
which he´s been battling in the past weeks.
The yellow team continued to train at the following days to get ready
to take part in the demanding initial races of the 2008 season, starting in late January. They´ll compete at the Tour Down
Under (Australia, 20-27 January), Tour de San Luis (Argentina, 22-27 January), and Tour of Qatar (Qatar, 27 January-2 February).
During the training camp the doctors, biomechanics experts and coaches performed different tests with the riders.
Yesterday Saunier Duval - Scott presented their team for this season at the M.A. Nazaríes Hotel,
Granada. The yellow squad put on their best clothes to attend an original ceremony hosted by Vuelta Ciclista a España commentator
Juan Mari Guajardo. Several unexpected things happened during the gala; for instance, paralympic champion Javier Otxoa appeared
wearing an especially designed jersey. Also, the new riders for this season -Italians Capecchi (ex Liquigas) and Capelli (ex
Unidelta amateur); Frenchmen Passeron (from Acqua & Sapone) and Flahaut (ex Jartazi), and Spaniards Jufré (from Predictor-Lotto),
Intxausti (from Nicolás Mateos), and Héctor González (Saunier Duval amateur)- were wearing the team´s new jersey.
Saunier Duval finished 2007 as the sixth best team of the UCI ProTour ranking, after an outstanding
season in which they took 29 victories. For the new season, the team have changed several members, clearly favouring
young guns. This makes Saunier Duval - Scott the second youngest ProTour team, with nine riders under 24. The yellow
squad will have 276 competition days in 2008.
Team manager Joxean Fernández Matxin appeared optimistic when he spoke about
the upcoming season. After a remark that it wouldn't be easy to repeat the succesful 200 season Joxean Fernández Matxin
said: "You´re right, it won't be easy because to achieve 29 wins as we did in 2007 means we´ll have to work very
hard. Moreover, it´ll be difficult for us as we´ve signed younger riders, nine of them are under 24."
Obeservers expect less victories for Saunier Duval - Scott. Saunier's team manager
said: "That seems to be the logical consequence; however, I really believe our team is better than the 2007 squad, with fewer
big names but stronger as a group. We´ve lost important men like Millar, Simoni or Ventoso, granted, but we´ll have a more
cohesive group. Above all, we´ll have to boost our young guns´ confidence. Otherwise, they´d feel overshadowed by the leaders.
I am sure, this team includes some of tomorrow´s cycling stars."
Asked which races will be key races for the team, Fernández Matxin said: "All of them. We´ll have a couple of riders fighting for victory in each race, starting
with the Tour Down Under (Australia), the Tour de San Luis (Argentina), and the Tour of Qatar, our first events of the season,
beginning in ten days. Of course the focus will be on the grand tours. Although it may seem that our chances are slim because
we don´t have a clear leader, I trust Gómez Marchante and Cobo for the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España; Piepoli, of
course, for the Vuelta and the Giro d´Italia; and especially Riccò for the Giro.
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Saunier Duval roster 2008
Benítez, José Alberto
Capelli, Ermanno *
De La Fuente, David
Del nero, Jesús
Gómez, Ángel ‘Litu’
Gómez Marchante, J. A.
González, Héctor *
Intxausti, Beñat *
Passeron, Aurelien *
* New signings