By Nick Bull
Rapha-Condor-Sharp today announced the signing of seven riders as the team takes a new direction for 2012.
With their focus switching towards developing young, home-grown talent, Raleigh's Richard Handley comes in and is joined by Luke Grivell-Mellor, Oliver Rossi and Tim Kennaugh, younger brother of Team Sky's Peter.
Australians Richard Lang and Ben Grenda, along with South African Christopher Jennings complete the list of new signings announced this morning.
Exciting new direction
Having impressed both at home and abroad, the team have opted against moving into the UCI Pro Continental ranks in order to establish a platform on which the best British youngsters can develop as riders.
Rapha's CEO, Simon Mottram, hopes this decision can replicate similar schemes already in place on the continent.
"We firmly believe that the Rapha-Condor-Sharp team can make more of a contribution to UK racing by taking a different approach, with a different ambition," Mottram said.
"The British Cycling academy only has spaces for the best eight young riders each year. There are no programs in this country to rival the proven systems such as those run by Rabobank or AN-Post.
"Starting in 2012 Rapha-Condor-Sharp aims to fill that gap with its own development program and, ultimately, a cycle racing academy."
Staying put: McCallum (l) and Downing (r) will remain at Rapha for 2012, while National Circuit Race champion Graham Briggs is Raleigh-bound
Experienced stars stay
It was also confirmed that Ed Clancy, Andy Tennant, Kristian House, James McCallum and Kristian House will all be staying for next season. According to the team, these experienced riders will play an ‘active role' in mentoring the under-23 riders who are joining RCS.
Graham Briggs and Ben Greenwood had previously announced their departure from John Herety's team, and Australian Zak Dempster is hopeful of a move to a WorldTour outfit having impressed as a stagaire for HTC-Highroad this year.
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