Tour of California Preview: Team Saxo Bank

Cancellara will be in good form coming into California, after a dominant win at Paris-Roubaix.

Cancellara will be in good form coming into California, after a dominant win at Paris-Roubaix.

Team Saxo Bank is to cycling what the Yankees are to baseball. With perhaps one of the deepest, strongest rosters in the peloton, Saxo Bank will come to this year’s Tour of California with serious firepower, and potential to blow the race apart.

The team, which was born out of the former Team CSC, has plenty of opportunity for stage wins, even if they don’t chase a GC victory. Reigning Olympic and world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara took the prologue TT in last year’s Tour of California, and has been having a stellar season this year, after winning Roubaix and Flanders back to back, putting him in great form this May.

Frank Schleck, who was fifth overall in last year’s Tour de France, has also had some good luck with this race, winning stage 8, the queen stage, in last year’s Tour of California. He could return to the roster this year along with younger brother Andy, who was second in GC at last year’s Tour de France, both of whom have been on the hunt for standout wins this season.

Strong man Jens Voigt was also in the running for a GC podium last year, placing 4th overall, just 1:10 off of Levi Leipheimer’s winning time. Voigt also finished second overall at the 2007 Tour of California. He is expected on the Tour of California roster, but with more climbing in this year’s edition, Voigt may have some trouble keeping up with some of the stronger climbers in the mountains.

Saxo Bank’s Tour of California roster will no doubt bring a wealth of talent, making the team a diverse threat on almost any stage. Many expect that the time trial will carry less weight than it has in the past, which means Saxo will have to step up its climbing game and can’t rely solely on TT performances. Saxo can choose any number of its riders to contend GC, and has enough speed and power to take several stage wins, making them a major threat in this year’s Tour of California.

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