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Johan previews the Tour of Lombardy - 10/13/2006

With the final race of the 2006 Pro Tour upon us this weekend, we caught up with Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Sports Manager Johan Bruyneel to see what he thought about this race and how it would all play out.

* Lining up for the Tour of Lombardy for Team DC is: Michael Barry (in his final DC race), Janez Brajkovic, Fumy Beppu, Voldymyr Bileka, Stijn Devolder, Vladimir Gusev, and Benjamin Noval. Jurgen Van Goolen will not line up as he was diagnosed with mild tendonitis in his knee and will end his season a race early and heal up. Lorenzo Lapage will be directing the team.

"Lombardy is a very special and very specific race, and the Italians really want to win it," Bruyneel said from his home in Spain. "It's the last race of the season and one where the home country is super-motivated. But you know, at the end of the year you have two kinds of riders still wanting to win: those who are highly motivated, and those who have to try and make up for something - a bad year, a bad Spring."

"It's a very difficult race, too, with lots of climbing. We will feature two of our riders in Gusev and Devolder. Gusev was Top 10 in Zurich and 11th recently at Paris-Tours and I think he can be Top 10 again in Lombardy. Devolder is still riding strong coming off the Vuelta, but we'll have to see how the rest of the guys are doing, especially since we're down to seven riders."

For those not familiar with this race, it is definitely not a race that will end with 50 riders hurtling down to a field sprint finish. "It's always a select group, four or five guys maximum," Bruyneel said. "There's not one specific attack point where the move always goes away, rather it's up and down all day, and in the final 50 km it's just one after the other. And the majority of the climbs are 3-4 km, so you can gain, or lose, a lot of time pretty much anywhere at the end. It's a very hard final."

As for the race favorites, Bruyneel think Schleck (CSC) and Sanchez (Euskaltel) will be ones to watch, but the Italians are really the ones to watch. "They have had a lot of local races recently so in addition to being motivated they are in good form as well. With all these races they will be very strong, to include riders from the Continental teams. Hopefully we'll see a good ride for us from Gusev and Devolder and who knows, maybe even Janez Brajkovic will be recovered enough to be a factor as well.

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10/13/2006 Johan previews Lombardy