Team Raleigh ring in the changes for 2012
Team Raleigh are ringing in the changes for next year as they look to become a major force on the British scene.
Top of the bill is 2008 Australian criterium champion Bernard Sulzberger, who was fourth in his country's road race championships this year. The older brother of FDJ pro Wesley, he arrives from Fly V Australia.
Alongside Briggs, it's thought that he'll be one of the team's leaders. "He's gathered lots of experience and is a prolific sprinter," team manager Cherie Pridham said.
2010 US criterium champion Daniel Holloway (Kelly Benefits), a former Garmin stagiaire, and experienced Evan Oliphant (Endura) also come on board.
At the younger end of the scale are newcomers Matt Holmes and Simon Holt.
Olympic Development Programme rider Holmes raced for Great Britain at the junior world championship road race in Copenhagen recently, while Holt returns to his home scene after two years racing in Italy.
Graham Briggs (Rapha-Condor-Sharp) and junior Tour of Wales winner Brennan Townshend were already confirmed signings.
"A Continental team is all about development: stepping up in terms of power and bringing in some riders who might not make it on the Academy, for whatever reason," Pridham said.
Going through the exit door, Matt Cronshaw, Dan Fleeman and Rapha-bound Richard Handley are among the higher-profile departees in a big clear-out.
Wannabe crit kings
With four current or former national criterium champions added, Team Raleigh's intent is clear. "Absolutely," Pridham replied when asked if she thought they could win the Tour Series. She indicated that they would be hoping for an increased presence in the Premier Calendar and British 1.2-races too.
As Endura strengthen and Rapha-Condor-Sharp look to youth, the British scene is evidently going to be closer than ever.
The team will continue to have a significant role in Raleigh's marketing strategy, as the famous bicycle manufacturer celebrates its 125th anniversary next year.
"It's an important factor, but not the main one. It's a special year for Raleigh - it'll be a nice, added bonus," Pridham said.
The new signings come after another year where the prestigious wins eluded big-budget Team Raleigh.
The outfit won a Tour DoonHame stage and had several podium finishes in Premier Calendar races. But they could only finish seventh in the Tour Series.
"On paper, we've got a winning team, but like any new squad, we have fast riders who have got to gel. I'm quietly confident," Pridham said.
It's understood that two more signings are to be announced soon.
Team Raleigh for 2012 so far: Graham Briggs (Gbr), Daniel Holloway (Usa), Matt Holmes (Gbr), Liam Holohan (Gbr), Simon Holt (Gbr) Jeroen Janssen (Ned), Evan Oliphant (Gbr), Jamie Sparling (Can), Bernard Sulzberger (Aus), Brennan Towshend (Gbr).
Related linksTeam Raleigh revamps for 2011
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