After the most successful year ever for the team Bjarne Riis is looking forward to the new season with ambitions that are sky-high.
When most of Team Saxo Bank's riders pull on their new cycling clothes and embark on a ten-day training camp on Mallorca and the rest of the team does the same in Australia it marks a brand new and exciting season for the Danish team. Expectations are high especially from team owner Bjarne Riis.
"Of course we need to be realistic and respect the fact that the other teams have a lot to offer as well, but I believe we have a great season ahead of us. And I wouldn't be surprised if we start winning races already from the beginning," says Bjarne Riis referring to the initial reports he's received from the riders all over the world regarding their pre-season training and to his own expectations for the 2009 season.
"Our guys are really working hard at the moment and it seems like they want to start the season with a bang. Last year we kicked off with a bang as well so if the riders have cranked up their training efforts even further over the winter it can only mean a great start to 2009. I get the feeling that we're all determined to prove that we have no intentions of turning down our ambitions because of the bad news regarding IT-Factory. On the contrary - we have a lot to live up to after this year but when I consider the riders on our team there's no reason what so ever why we shouldn't be able to do it again - and maybe even better. Obviously we're in the middle of a major generational change but I can easily imagine some of the young riders competing for victories here and there. And with riders like Fabian, Jens and JJ we should be able to grab some victories already before the Classics," continues Riis.
One of the more experienced riders and a fitting symbol of Team Saxo Bank's ambitions for the first half of the season is Fabian Cancellara, who's preparations down south are going great after he was one of the most successful riders on the team in 2008.
"There was over 40 centimeters snow back home so I chose to take my family to Gran Canaria in order to build up my form properly ahead of the new year. I don't really have time to sit and wait for the snow to melt. I'll definitely get a lot of training done during the winter and I'm really looking forward to the training camp in the States, where I'll be able to get in serious shape," comments Cancellara, who won the very first start he had last year - the prologue in Tour of California - followed by a string of impressive victories: Monte dei Paschi Eroica, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo.
"Of course my main focus is on the Classics and I might even be doing some of the more hilly ones next year, so it's possible that I'll be starting in Amstel Gold Race and Fleché Wallonne," continues the Swiss Super Star, who according to rumors will also be doing Giro d'Italia.
"I've read about those rumors but first of all I want to check out the route properly along with Bjarne Riis and Kim Andersen to see of it's a good idea or not. For now the focus is on the spring season and the key word is: win, win, win," finishes Cancellara.