Skil-Shimano is hoping to repeat its Tour de France sweepstakes this season as it prepares for an important season to confirm itself among the top ranks of the peloton.
Strong performances in the 2008 and 2009 Paris-Nice helped earn Skil-Shimano one of the three wild-card invitations to the 2009 Tour. The team lived up to its end of the bargain in animating the race, putting riders into breakaways, capped by a third-place in stage 3 with Cyril Lemoine.
“The team and the organization have been strengthened in terms of both quantity and quality, while the core of the team has been retained,” said team boss Iwan Spekenbrink. “We have a good set of riders for 2010, which the staff has every confidence in.”
The team held its official presentation this weekend in Rotterdam, Holland, site of the start of the 2010 Tour de France.
The symbolism wasn’t lost on Tour officials, but the Dutch-based pro continental team will have its work cut out for it, as several new big teams are trying to muscle in on a one of the prized Tour invitations.
The team is setting its sights on participating in “one or two major tours,” with perhaps a bid to the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta a España to complement what they’re hoping is a return to the Tour.
Six new riders join the team for 2010, with Belgian Dominique Cornu, Dutchmen Job Vissers and Robin Chaigneau, Frenchmen Alexandre Geniez and Yann Huguet and Norwegian Frederik Wilmann.
Four riders left the team, including Fumiyuki Beppo, Theo Eltink (retires) and Lemoine and Jonathan Hivert (both to Saur Sojasun).
The team will also see three Chinese riders incorporated into the roster and their continued development is a top goal for the team.
“The young Chinese riders have come on great strides in all areas over the past two years,” Spekenbrink said. “We expect them to be ready to part in more international races this season.”
Skil-Shimano for 2010:
Piet Rooijakkers, Albert Timmer, Tom Veelers, Roy Curvers, Kenny van Hummel, Koen de Kort, Floris Goesinnen, Robin Chaigneau, Job Vissers (all Netherlands), Thierry Hupond, David Deroo, Steve Houanard, Yann Huguet, Alexandre Geniez (France), Robert Wagner, Simon Geschke (Germany), Bert De Backer, Dominique Cornu (Belgium), Yukihiro Doi (Japan), Feng Han, Long Jin, Cheng Ji (China), Frederik Wilmann (Norway), Mitchell Docker (Australia)
General manager: Iwan Spekenbrink (Netherlands)
Directeurs sportifs: Rudie Kemna, Piet Hoekstra, Merijn Zeeman (Netherlands)