By Gerard Knapp
Britain's newest Continental cycling team - Team DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed - was presented to a gathering of over 200 guests at a function centre in Sussex, England earlier this week, and despite the somewhat cold and grey conditions outside, the atmosphere inside was decidedly upbeat and optimistic.
With British Eurosport commentator David Harmon acting as MC, some 11 of the 13 riders were introduced at the White Hart Hotel in Sussex, England on February 22, 2006. The team includes reigning British road champion Russell Downing, and as an indication of its UK talent, some five members of the team will be representing their respective British nations at the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Melbourne next month.
The team is a merger of the British DFL squad - launched last year - with the more well-established Team Cyclingnews, the Australian-registered, Belgium-based team that has over five years' experience of racing on the continent.
With an injection of funds from English businessman Nick Collins, managing director of Driving Force Logistics (DFL), the two teams were merged and a stronger squad has been the result, he said.
It retains the knowledge base of Team CN's joint Belgian managers, Gilbert de Weerdt and Rudi Dubois, as well as Daniel Willems being retained as director sportif. Willems, a winner of four stages of the Tour de France in the '80s among his 85 pro race victories, will direct the team through a comprehensive calendar scheduled to include racing on four continents this year.
According to De Weerdt, the team is a combination of mostly youth mixed with experience, especially with some of the Team CN riders, such as Sven de Weerdt (Bel), David Harrigan and Cameron Jennings, having good knowledge of the parcours of many European races.
The full roster of riders from the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Belgium includes: Russell Downing (British National Champion), Yanto Barker (GBr), Dean Downing (GBr), Tom Barras (GBr), Alex Coutts (GBr), Matt Brammeier (GBr), Leigh Palmer (GBr/Aus), Sven de Weerdt (Bel), Jeremy Vennell (Nzl), Cameron Jennings (Aus), Kane Oakley (Aus), David Harrigan (Aus) and Bernie Sulzberger (Aus).
Of these 13, five will be in action at the Commonwealth Games, including: Barker and Brammeier (Wales); Russell Downing (England); Alex Coutts (Scotland) and Jeremy Vennell (New Zealand).
A full report and photos will follow soon. (Cyclingnews.com is a sponsor of Team DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed.)
November 25, 2005: Team DFL merges with Cyclingnews