What's Cool In Road Cycling

Tafi Does Danish

– By Gordon Cameron –
– Photo courtesy of Il Tifo Tafi website –

Emulating the incomparable Laurent Jalabert, Italian Classics great Andrea Tafi looks like seeing out the end of his career with Denmark’s Team CSC-Tiscali. It is expected that he’ll put his name on a one-year contract today (Saturday).

Speaking on CSC-Tiscali’s website, Bjarne Riis outlined why they had pursued the 36 year old Tuscan. “Tafi is a spectacular rider. He has won some very big races and he has lots of experience plus an enormous physical capacity. In Tafi, the team will have a class rider and a valuable asset. He always works hard for the team and he suits our profile very well.”

Riis stated that Tafi’s age was of no concern to him, and there’s no reason why it should be, especially after Tafi took such a dominant win at this year’s Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), his 5th World Cup win in an impressive 13 season career.

Tafi is one of the Mapei family who have found themselves looking for new homes after the withdrawal of their sponsor, but is enthusiastic about the year ahead. “I have chosen CSC-Tiscali because already during our first encounter, team manager Riis has shown to have a lot of confidence in me. The team is competitive for me. The racers and the staff believe in my plan to win Paris-Roubaix. In the second part of the season I will be at the disposition of Hamilton and co in the Giro and the Tour. I want to finish on a high note and to leave the indelible sign of the Gladiator on season 2003.”

Many thought that Jalabert was on the way to a comfortable retirement when he joined CSC for the 2001 season, before he went on to take 2 Tour de France Mountains titles, 2 Tour stage wins, and successive editions of the Clasica San Sebastian.

If Tafi can achieve his stated aim of winning his beloved Paris-Roubaix, then it will have been a highly profitable deal all round. And his experience and power will go a long way to helping some of CSC’s other riders. Nicki Sorensen, Tristan Hoffman and their colleagues will gain immensely from racing alongside such a canny single day specialist.

Although it may look like a short-term solution Riis has an eye to the future with this move. The re-signing of Michael Sanstoed, seriously hurt at the Tour de France, also adds an extra layer of strength to a team with the potential to achieve major results in 2003.

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