Posted by Editoress on 12/15/06
Video Interviews with Tom Boonen, Paolo Bettini and Specialized's Mike Sinyard were posted earlier today.
The QuickStep-Innergetic 2007 team launch to the press took place in Kortrijk, Belgium today. After the obligatory introduction by team director Patrick Lefebvre of the team sponsors (including new bike supplier Mike Sinyard of Specialized), the full team was introduced - headlined by Tom Boonen and world champion Paolo Bettini.
The team showed a video outlining the impressive number of victories they have had this season, including Flanders, Lombardia and Bettini's Worlds win, and then the collected media were let lose on the riders. As expected, Boonen and Bettini received the lion's share of the attention.
Tom Boonen did not point to any specific events as primary targets for the year: "My goals are the same as always; I commence the season and I start to win straight away, it helps me and the team. As soon as the Classics begin, from Milan San remo to Flanders and Paris-Roubaix every race is important to me." He also does not see any conflicts over team leadership in races where both he and Bettini compete. "Me and Paolo rode together only two times last year so I don't think it is a big problem. We try to keep everything separated. The only times we meet up are Milan San Remo and Tour of Flanders and in those cases it is good to have two or three leaders."
Boonen also commented on his goal to win the Points Jersey at the Tour de France. "It has been so for the past few years but I have not been successful yet; I have to keep on trying." However, he said that if it came down to a choice between winning a Classic and the Points Jersey, he would take "a Classic win ... "because my heart lies with the Classics."
Bettini has come off a year of both extreme highs and lows. After winning the Worlds title - which he has chased for years - he and his family suffered the loss of his brother just before the Giro di Lombardia (which Bettini won, dedicating the victory to his brother). Bettini called his Lombardia win "special for personal reasons. Of course, the Worlds is the Worlds, but the race that will stay in my heart most of all is the Tour di Lombardia."
Bettini also revealed that he will race the Tour of California. "My first race is on the 10th of February, near my home in Tuscany, and then after this race I will ride the Tour of California. We have Specialized as our new bike supplier, so it is natural that I would do the race which is their race." Remarkably, it will be the first visit to the United States for Bettini (he was in Canada for the 2003 world championships).
On the new bikes that the team will ride - Specialized's Tarmac and Roubaix models - Bettini said he has only has had a week to ride on them so far, but that "it seems to be good. I spoke to many riders who have used them, I spoke to David Rebellin of Gerolsteiner. Specialized is at the avant garde of bike technologies, so it will be okay."
For the coming season Bettini will wear the rainbow stripes of the world champion, a fact that he is keenly aware of. "To honour the Rainbow Jersey, you have to win races, but we will see which and when it will happen." Having said that, he was quick to name Flanders as the biggest race still missing from his palmares. "With the Tour of Flanders I can say that I have won on every terrain. It is one of the ones I am missing, that's what keeps me motivated."
However, he still considers is Olympic victory in Athens is greatest victory. "The world championships is the biggest thing in cycling, but the Olympics is the Olympics. If lifts it to a new level and makes you a sporting hero outside of cycling, that is why it is so special."
Bettini also explained why he had said that he would quit cycling if DNA testing came into the sport, and commented on the recent suggestions that some teams or riders might not be accepted at certain races.
"I didn't take a strong position, I was expressing my own opinion ... I said it (he would quit) to provoke a reaction, and it worked because the reaction is that the teams are starting to speak to the UCI and it sounds like something is going to be done. It was a provocation."
"In cycling everybody thinks they can express their own opinions, and there are lots of different opinions. The UCI exists and the UCI gives a licence to a rider and everything has been cleared up in his case then I don't see why a race should be able to decide who rides."
Mike Sinyard explained that he was been pursuing an agreement with Patrick Lefebvre and QuickStep for three years. "I love this team, it is the best team in the world. Are goal is to supply the best product in the world and help the team achieve their goals ... Personally I love the one day races ... I really honoured that the QuickStep team believes in us and our products." The team will ride Tarmac and Roubaix models.
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