Friday Group Ride #44

I really hope that Bryan Nygaard, Kim Andersen and the Schleck Brothers just never announce a sponsor for their new team, so that we can go on calling it The Luxembourg Project indefinitely. Projects are neat. Think of some of history’s great projects, the Hoover Dam, the Pyramids at Giza, the Alan Parsons.

Calling themselves The Luxembourg Project also leaves open all sorts of options for businesses other than a pro-racing team. They could open a chain of restaurants specializing in Luxembourgish food. They could start a hip-hop record label featuring only Luxembourgish MCs. The sky is the limit, no pun intended.

And so now, as they complete their takeover of Bjarne Riis’ Saxo roster, and add various and sundry others to their squad, the time has come to ask a slightly more serious question about the team with no name, namely (see what I did there?) what are their goals? What are they after that they needed to leave the icy flatlands of Denmark for the rainy, cold flatlands of Luxembourg?

They’ll have the Schlecks to sprinkle over the three Grand Tour podiums, and presumably they’ll have Fabian Cancellara to break Tom Boonen’s spirit wherever the indomitable Swiss chooses to ride against the…um, domitable Belgian. They’ve also got Jakob Fuglsang, Stuart O’Grady, Jens Voigt and Dominic Klemme (also Saxo), Linus Gerdemann and Fabian Wegman (Milram), the Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati (Liquigas-Doimo), Brice Feillu (Vacansoleil), Maxime Monfort (HTC-Columbia), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) and Robert Wagner (Skil-Shimano).

They’re stacked. They are the Pamela Anderson of pro cycling.

So this week’s Group Ride is: What will constitute success for TLP? Do they have to win a grand tour? Do they need to win more than one classic? Will it be enough to simply accumulate a number of wins equal to those of all their riders’ wins from last season? Or do they just have to win more than Team Sky did in its inaugural season?

What will it take?

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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16 comments

  1. michael

    I don’t care one way or another what or how much they win – I am more interested in seeing the look in Riis’ face anytime one of these gents is up the road and how he reacts. I can already picture a GT stage with Saxo chasing down breaks with LP riders in them – even more specifically, a break from an LP rider who is a long way down the GC of said race.

    Think Bjarne will let Jens take a flyer uncontested? Think again ;)

    Will he order his team to turn themselves inside out in a semi-classic to chase down Cancellara? Absolutely.

    He is beyond slow boil now, I think once the opportunity presents itself next year he will explode.

    ps – screw it, it would be really nice to see Cancellara take another Monument.

    1. Padraig

      Cancellara has mentioned wanting to take Liege-Bastogne-Liege next season. Given his performance in the Tour of Flanders this year, I think he can do it. When he goes, though, you can be guaranteed every Sungard rider within sight of him will be ordered to pounce.

      I’ve got nothing against Riis, but it will be sweet to watch Cancellara ride away from the field again. I live for that … and my son.

  2. eatiusbirdius

    Success? If the Schleck’s actually eat some food and they also sue Pixar for royalties due them for using Andy’s likeness as Woody in Toy Story. ;-)

    Sincerely, just naming a sponsor would be a success IMO. I’m already tired of hearing about them and they haven’t even rode a season yet. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me but I have a hard time getting behind the emasculated Schleck’s. The brotherly love-ins, the neutralizing stages, the whining about people attacking…meh. Granted, they are obviously great racers and it’s easy for me to sit behind a keyboard and judge, but the only anger they have appears to be in their stomachs (see post stage TdF interview with Andy after ‘Bert attacked him when he mis-shifted) and isn’t visible when they ride. No clue why, but I can’t cheer for them for some reason. I mean even Basso, who is smooth as silk when attacking, seems to show more aggression in his riding.

    Also, the nagging question that still lingers in my mind is, Andy was the only one that could hang with ‘Bert last year. We all know where ‘Bert sits now (i.e. he’s not suffering from Asthma any longer). So does the fact that those two were head and shoulders above the rest say anything about Andy’s performance as well? I hate being the skeptic but c’est la vie.

    Anyway, I want to like them and I’m sure they’ll be a good team. I just can’t seem to get excited about them.

  3. eatiusbirdius

    Padraig said, “Cancellara has mentioned wanting to take Liege-Bastogne-Liege next season.”

    Do you think that announcing that he is aiming for one result in a single-day race is a good strategic move though? Doesn’t that just paint a target on his back for that race and significantly reduce his odds of winning that race?

  4. Alex Torres

    It´s certainly one ambitious project, this one. No question. But then… so was SKY´s, and look what they did (or rather, did NOT). OK, TPL is different in its core of riders I admit. And they have Spartacus.

    Maybe they´re looking for world domination, or at least cycling domination. To beat La Vie Claire´s record of domination, or whatever team that has dominated an entire season in cycling. That would make into the books.

    If they can make that much of individual talent to work as a team and help each other achieve their individual and collective goals… it´s gonna be one tough ride for any other team in 2011! I´m just not sure about direction, but this bunch can ride a bike for sure!

  5. mark

    eatiusbirdius: In the case of Cancellara, announcing his intentions makes no difference. He’s the one rider that can ride away, leaving the field unable to do anything about it.

  6. Flahute

    Oh, man … I hope they’re not the Pamela Anderson of Pro Cycling … she’s about as fake as it gets, and I think the Luxembourg Project will be the real deal when it comes to top-rate professional cycling.

  7. Souleur

    The Luxembourg Project is as is a success as is bringing these studs together, given that at the end of the season it seemed they were high and dry, now they are stacked as you say…like Pamela Anderson, but better. There is no plastic, they are real & no Hepatitis C and they have Jens!

    Spartacus will bring success to the team and it will be in spring. I would love to see him do the trio, but without a doubt that is a tall order.

    But think, name names like Linus, Wegman, Jens, Ogrady, Bennati, Schlecks, Cancellara and it goes, they just need to not build up hopes like Team Sky did because when they did that a second place at the TdF was failure. Riis is smart and won’t let expectations run amuck.

    I like the underground project gotham thing that is going. I look forward to watching them, it will be good.

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  9. Sophrosune

    I have the growing suspicion at this point that just announcing title sponsors will be a victory for the Luxembourg Project. I’m sorry but this delay can’t be good.

  10. Marco Placero

    Burst through the wall of our fantasies about wearing a billboard and riding scripted for fan entertainment. Just plain attack until they puke on the finish area of that day’s race. Jens & Fabian will take this team toward this goal and all for it: one-day classics.

  11. James

    I think they will have to win the Tour at a minimum and the addition of one of the big spring classics to be termed successful. L-B-L could be interesting with both of the Schleck boys past champions and Cancellara stating it’s his big goal. Do they go 1-2-3? The team does have the talent to win a lot of races. I thought Sky was over hyped this past season but I don’t think that can really apply to the Luxembourg team. What I want to know is are their cars going to be cooler than Sky’s Jaguars?

  12. michael

    @ Sophrusone

    I don’t think they ever really need to name the sponsors – if a couple of very-private rich guys are getting into cycling for 5 years just for fun with no other agenda, they are open to be creative and use any old name for the team.

    Hell they could name themselves the Outrageous Aardvarks and it wouldn’t make a difference. I think the sponsor announcement is unimportant – they have presented the necessary guarantees to the UCI. This is now a question of our curiosity, not an economic imperative for the guys providing the dosh.

    I think everyone involved with this specific project are enjoying all the notoriety this is drumming up.

  13. sophrosune

    @Michael Very interesting. It’s sort of like the US elections. Some big company, possibly foreign, that doesn’t have to identify itself just bought itself a congressman, a senator and a govenor. Good times.

  14. randomactsofcycling

    Team Sky surely cannot be a yardstick for anything other than hyperbole and if Andy Schleck is measuring himself against Bradley Wiggins then Lord help us all.
    I believe there will be very differing agendas within the team. Andy Schleck actually still has it all to prove, where as Cancellara has nothing to prove. AS has a mile to make up in the TTs and his descending skills, though not much in focus, will bring him unstuck unless he gets as comfortable going down hill as up.
    As an organisation I think they have to prove they can keep a talented pool of riders happy for more than two years. Look not only at Riis but Stapleton. There are cracks appearing at Highroad too.
    I disagree with the assumption that Riis will be racing for revenge next season. I think he has proven to be a cool and shrewd calculator and if anything will use his knowledge of the Lux team and their riders’ psyche to his own advantage.

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