Andy Schleck and Fabian Cancellara will fight back this season at the head of the 2013 RadioShack team, which was unveiled Friday after crashes caused them 2012 Tour de France and Olympic heartbreak.
As the team presented its squad in Spain, Schleck was in Australia for the Tour Down Under starting Sunday, hungry for action after a broken pelvis kept him out of last year's Tour de France. Cancellara meanwhile was preparing to attack his beloved early season classics after a painful fall in the road race at the 2012 Olympics in London stopped him winning both that and the time trial event. Schleck, second on the podium in the 2011 Tour and who was awarded the 2010 title after Spain's Alberto Contador was banned for a doping violation, said he could not bear to watch it last year after breaking his pelvis in the Criterium du Dauphine.
"This year will be better than 2012 because, in fact, to be worse seems impossible," Schleck said in an interview published on the team website. He admitted his ultimate aim of winning the 100th edition of the Tour looked like a tough order for this year.
"The course is favorable for attackers such as myself so I hope we can see a much more open and lively Tour," he said. "I know I won't be the pre-race favorite," he added, however. "I need to return to the level I was in 2011. I will do everything to regain that level."
New team manager Luca Guercilena of Italy named Cancellara as the man to lead the team in the spring classics. The Swiss time trial champion missed his cherished Paris-Roubaix race in 2012 after a fall in the Tour of Flanders, and later suffered another spill on a sharp bend in the Olympics road race.
"I can't wait to be back there in the heat of battle once again," said Cancellara. "I've worked so hard during my winter training and I'm certain that with some luck I can get back into the best possible race rhythm."
New arrivals in the team for 2013 are Belgian rider Stijn Devolder, 33, for the cobbles of the classics and attacking climber Robert Kiserlovski of Croatia, 26, for the big stage races. The team's US veteran Chris Horner will be looking to win the Amgen Tour of California in May.
RadioShack has twice topped the overall team classification in the Tour de France since the team was set up by Lance Armstrong in 2009. Armstrong admitted in an interview broadcast Thursday that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs to help him win his seven Tour de France titles, which have now been stripped from him.
Schleck said in comments released by the team that he expected tighter doping controls now to make such cheating "impossible".
"It comes a bit late," Schleck said of Armstrong's admission. "Lance was a good person but I am disappointed of course now that I know how he won his Tours. But let's look forward to our 2013 races."
RadioShack Leopard Trek team for the 2013 season:
Jan Bakelants (BEL), George Bennett (NZL), Matthew Busche (USA), Fabian Cancellara (SUI), Stijn Devolder (BEL), Laurent Didier (LUX), Tony Gallopin (FRA), Ben Hermans (BEL), Danilo Hondo (GER), Chris Horner (USA), Markel Irizar (ESP), Bob Jungels (LUX), Ben King (USA), Robert Kiserlovski (CRO), Andreas Kloeden (GER), Tiago Machado (POR), Maxime Monfort (BEL), Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA), Nelson Oliveira (POR), Yaroslav Popovych (UKR), Gregory Rast (SUI), Thomas Rohregger (AUT), Hayden Roulston (NZL), Andy Schleck (LUX), Frank Schleck (LUX), Jesse Sergent (NZL), Jens Voigt (GER), Haimar Zubeldia (ESP).