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It started as a relaxed day at the sea-side with the family. I was hanging out, feet up in my lazy chair and watching Amstel Gold Race on Belgian telly last Sunday. But soon I was on the edge of my seat. The excitement was building up as we all witnessed Team CSC's chances of taking victory increasing.
First, Karsten (Kroon) attacked on the climb of the Eyserbosweg. To see Fränk power away ten kms from the finish to win solo, like Fabian had done the week before, was awesome!
After the high the team experienced thanks to Basso's win in Criterium International, followed by an outstanding performance in Paris-Roubaix and Sastre's win in the Primavera, it was clear that the guys were eager to keep riding the winning wave.
In a previous update I asked CN readers and Team CSC fans to practice a bit of patience; that we took a different approach to the season, with February and March being a bit of a calmer period for us than other years.
Clearly, Bjarne's new approach has paid dividends so far and the account is not closed yet! While it would have been easy to continue in the same successful style as before, Riis is always looking at trying new training and race programs, applying new methods to improve the whole team. Together we work at getting the best out of each individual rider.
For example the Schleck brothers; Fränk and Andy. They both are exceptional talents and we believe that we'll see a lot more great performances by these young guns. Both of them are hard working riders; with an experienced father Johnny (former yellow jersey in the TdF) guiding his sons during their training and race preparation.
It's remarkable how many young cyclists, (26 years of age and less) are standing on the podium this season. Tom Boonen's complete 2005 season was the initial sign that a new breed of riders would be taking over the reign of the more experienced men.
And although it might look to you that there are quite a few new names in the top of the race results, the truth is these young riders have shown promise during their amateur years and ever since they entered pro rankings.
Among others, Boonen (2006 Winner Ronde van Vlaanderen, and all the rest), Thomas Dekker (winner Tirreno-Adriatico '06), Pozzato (Milan-San Remo '06), Cancellara (Paris-Roubaix '06), Fränk Schleck (Amstel Gold '06), Cunego, Valverde, Nuyens, Hoste, Gilbert (Het Volk '06), are expected to be solid in road cycling in the years to come.
With also Davis, Wegmann, Haussler, Breschel, Gerrans, Gusev, Andy Schleck, Contador, etc. coming up, there's an abundance of youthful fresh faces in the pro peloton.
The thing I wish to point out is that the new kids on the block are coming from all corners of the globe. From Scandinavia to Australia, there's so much young talent making its way through to the very top of the sport of cycling.
It's great to see that cycling has reached all corners of the world and that easy access to training methods and the increased facility of travel is opening doors for more and more young men and women.
For cycling fans and spectators, the future certainly looks exciting.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Scott & Sabine Sunderland