The waiting is over, and this lunchtime, Team Leopard Trek – not to be confused with Nepal based adventure tour company Snow Leopard Trek – held its first press conference ahead of what promises to be a glitzy launch in front of 4,000 lucky ticket holders in Luxembourg this evening.
The name of the team, until now known as the rather less snappy Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project and built around a core of former Team Saxo Bank riders and staff including the Schleck brothers and four time world time trial champion and classics specialist Fabian Cancellara, was confirmed by team manager Bryan Nygaard at a press conference in Luxembourg.
This evening’s event will be streamed live on the RTL TV channel’s website from 7pm UK time, and you should be able to follow proceedings here.
Meanwhile, what purports to be the team’s kit design was leaked this morning by a Luxembourg cycling website, and initial impressions are a bit, shall we say, ‘meh,’ with a mainly black kit also containing blocks of white as well as a stripe in the shade of duck egg blue shown in the picture – immediate thoughts are that its another riff on the theme already played by Team Sky and, more recently, Garmin-Cervélo.
At the lunchtime press coference, Nygaard, formerly press officer at Team Saxo Bank and briefly holding a similar position at Team Sky, said: “We have developed our new team, aiming for a fresh and innovative style. Of utmost importance, though, is to take cycling back to its proper roots: It’s all about the racing.
“With riders on the roster who can win from the first race of the season to the final, we are looking to be competitive in a lot races,” he continued. “We are not going to win every race, but we are certainly here to make our mark in the biggest events.”
Those events will include not only the Tour de France, which Andy Schleck may start as defending champion should Alberto Contador be stripped of his 2010 title as a result of his positive test for clenbuterol, but also the Spring classics, where Cancellara is keen to add to his palmarès which include winning the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix on successive weekends last year.
In road captain Stuart O’Grady, the team has another former Paris-Roubaix winner, while Schleck himself has won Liège-Bastogne-Liège and older brother Fränk is a past winner of the Amstel Gold.
“We couldn’t be happier with this group of riders,” enthused Nygaard. “And I’m sure that racing in our new, beautiful kit they will continue to be an admired group of distinguished athletes. I have a good feeling that they truly will present the right attitude to their fans and to the media.
“The people we have assembled to support the riders are a group that I am equally
confident in. I think we have picked just the right people for this project. An important part of these are our Sports Directors who have hands-on experience and a deep intuitive knowledge to guide their athletes with, while simultaneously utilizing a science- based background,” Nygaard believes.
“With the appointment of Kim Andersen as Team Manager and Luca Guercilena as Sports Director/trainer, it seems a sound ‘one-two punch’ in terms of optimal physical and tactical collaboration with the riders. “Add to this duo, other skilled tacticians and former riders like Lars Michaelsen, Torsten Schmidt, and Adriano Baffi; and we certainly have an exceptional assembly of Sports Directors to guide our young team,” he added.
The team has also revealed its full sponsor line-up, with Luxembourg-based energy company Enovos joining previously announced sponsor Mercedes-Benz. On the cycling side of things, the team’s Trek bikes will be equipped with Shimano Di2, while clothing comes from Craft, pedals from Speedplay, tyres from Schwalbe, eyewear from Oakley and sports nutrition from First Endurance and Science In Sports. Off-the-bike apparel is being supplied by Danish lufestyle brand Day, Birger et Mikkelsen.
Footwear, meanwhile, will be provided by Northwave – we’d been hoping that the team would have gone with a certain rival Italian brand, but sadly it looks like the Schlecks and the Sidi headline we’d been keeping up our sleeve will have to be consigned to the bin.
Commenting on the Trek sponsorship, Nygaard said: “Like Mercedes-Benz in the
automobile industry, Trek is a benchmark brand with a history of success that is
second to none. I am extremely proud that they will be a title sponsor for us. The
riders are delighted to be riding their bikes and we all look forward to a fruitful
“We couldn’t have hoped for a stronger, more cohesive group of sponsors,” he continued. “We are impressed by each of their industry-unique accomplishments and humbled by their enthusiasm to work with us.
“In each prospective sponsor, we were seeking a reciprocal relationship that would be beneficial to both sides. Finally, we are completely ready to realise these benefits. We are all keen to hit the road as Team Leopard-Trek.”
We’ll bring you further news of this evening's launch in real time here and on our Twitter feed, and in the meantime, the full team roster, together with riders’ nationalities and their previous teams, is as follows:
Daniele Bennati (Italy) Liquigas-Doimo
Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) Saxo Bank
Stefan Denifl (Austria) Cervélo TestTeam
Brice Feillu (France) Vacansoleil
Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark) Saxo Bank
Linus Gerdemann (Germany) Milram
Dominic Klemme (Germany) Saxo Bank
Anders Lund (Denmark) Saxo Bank
Maxime Monfort (Belgium) HTC-Columbia
Martin Mortensen (Denmark) Vacansoleil
Giacomo Nizzolo (Italy) first pro contract
Stuart O’Grady (Australia) Saxo Bank
Martin Pedersen (Denmark) Footon-Servetto
Silva Peres (Portugal) Barbot-Siper
Joost Posthuma (Netherlands) Rabobank
Andy Schleck (Luxembourg) Saxo Bank
Fränk Schleck (Luxembourg) Saxo Bank
Tom Stamsnijder (Netherlands) Rabobank
Davide Viganò (Italy) Team Sky
Jens Voigt (Germany) Saxo Bank
Robert Wagner (Germany), Skil-Shimano
Fabian Wegmann (Germany) Milram
Wouter Weylandt (Belgium) Quick Step
Oliver Zaugg (Switzerland) Liquigas-Doimo
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.