The new Vacansoleil team was presented to the press in the Dutch city of Geertruidenberg, near Rotterdam on Thursday.
The team, managed by Daan Luijkx, has been awarded ProContinental status and will start the 2009 season with 22 riders.
The team is a mixture of experienced and young talented Dutch riders, supplemented by riders from other countries.
The team?s mission is to be ‘sporting, transparent and ambitious’. A contract was signed for at least three years with Vacansoleil as main sponsor and Batavus cycles as co-sponsor. Contracts were also signed with several sub-sponsors.
For the Classic races, Baden Cooke, Bobbie Traksel and Björn Leukemans will be the team?s leaders.
In the stage races the team relies on up-and-coming French climber Clément Lhotellerie, Matteo Carrara and the young Wout Poels.
The team’s ambition for 2009 is to compete in all of the Classic races and also one of the Grand Tours. With Cooke (a former green jersey winner at the Tour de France) and Lhotellerie on board, the team may well stand a chance of being invited to the French race.
The squad will kick off the season in February at the Étoile des Bessèges, the Tour of the Mediterranean, the Tour of the Algarve and the Ruta del Sol.
The Vaconsoleil team: Thijs van Amerongen, Arnoud van Groen, Reinier Honig, Johnny Hoogerland, Gerben Löwik, Wouter Mol, Jens Mouris, Wout Poels, Matthé Pronk, Bobbie Traksel, Aart Vierhouten and Lieuwe Westra (All Netherlands), Wim de Vocht, Frederik Veuchelen and Björn Leukemans (all Belgium), Borut Bozic (Slovenia), Marco Marcato and Matteo Carrara (Italy), Martin Mortensen (Denmark), Clément Lhotellerie (France), Baden Cooke (Australia) and Sergey Lagutin (Uzbekistan). Team management: Michel Cornelisse (Netherlands) and Hilaire Van der Schueren (Belgium). Manager: Daan Luijkx (Netherlands).
Vaconsoleil team presentation in Rotterdam
Vaconsoleil: aiming high for 2009