Though already loaded with talent, fans of the developing Luxembourg based professional road squad shouldn't get ahead of themselves in assessing its winning potential, writes Philip Gomes.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

While Australian cycling fans are focused on the relatively modest
development of our homegrown UCI ProTeam aspirant Pegasus Sports another
ambitious entrant is quickly developing into a potential powerhouse
without even turning a pedal

The Luxembourg based, Schleck led
project (Leopard) continues its long march through the pro peloton, snapping up a
number of high-quality riders in advance of their inaugural 2011 season.

It
has been fascinating to watch this team develop and early excitement by
cycling fans is justified given some of the names linked to the
developing team.

And while others endlessly speculate about
potential sponsors and possible team name, I'm more interested in what
will happen when the rubber hits the road.

The Schlecks, Andy and
Frank, Jens Voigt, Daniele Bennati, Brice Feillu, Jakob Fulsang, Anders
Lund, Robert Wagner, Fabian Wegmann, Maxime Monfort, Linus Gerdemann
and Dominic Klemme are all signed, sealed and delivered, with
Australia's own Stuart O'Grady all but confirmed.

I don't know
about you but even before completion this collection of riders already
looks like a Grand Tour winner to me.

Of course we've been here
before, in fact January, with the newly launched Team Sky squad. Proving
that a year is a long time in sport and that we all have short
memories.

The expectation was that Sky would sweep all before
them in 2010 but the reality of actual racing soon saw them battling for
wins. And by the time the Tour de France was over a small reassessment
was underway.

Not that the team Sky season was unsuccessful.
Rational assessment suggests it was.

The team racked up an
assortment of stage wins, category classification wins, and general
classification wins like the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

A consistent
performance that was perhaps not properly reflected in their final UCI
team ranking of 15th.

But despite being in the mix at many races
they missed bagging a big one. So based on the preseason hype their
season could be considered a bit of a let down.

Still, the
British based project continues with its stated goal intact after a
solid opening season, developing a potential Tour de France winner
within five years. Only the next four will tell.

The stakes for
the Luxembourg project are much higher though, this looks like a team in
a hurry and one that won't consider their 2011 season as a success
without winning a Grand Tour - or two, something their newly minted
sports director Kim Andersen alluded to in an interview with Danish
media.

"There are obviously high expectations for us. I cannot
get around that. There must be expectations, but at the moment I'm
relaxed about things," Andersen told the Danish site spn.dk

"My
philosophy is that of course there is a lot of pressure on us, with
more to come, but we must be careful not to let it get to us. If you
work 100 percent and coach riders properly, it will come, even if it
might not happen in the first week.

"When we talk about the Tour
de France, it is clear that we have some riders who will target the
overall win," Andersen said. "But I believe that we have a team that is
so strong that we could win in many areas throughout the season."

No
doubt, but I remember hearing that same sentiment expressed last year
about Team Sky. Again, time and actual racing will tell.