The Irish team An Post Chain Reacion - Sean Kelly cycling team was unveiled today with 17 riders, including veteran Niko Eeckhout the oldest at 42 and Irishman Jack Wilson, 19, the youngest.
Wilson, a former Irish national Junior champion, is part of the Irish core of the team, together with Sean Downey, Ronan McLaughlin and Sam Bennett.
Bennett, top 10 in a number of Tour of Britain and An Post Ras stages is hoping to follow his ex-teammates Gediminas Bagdonas, Roy Jans and Kenneth Van Bilsen into the upper echelons next year.
“Personally this season is a big one for me. I had a frustrating start last year with a couple of niggly injuries, but towards the end of the calendar I felt in top condition which helped me produce some strong performances. With a solid pre-season behind me this time out I’m really looking ahead with great optimism” Bennett said.
Reigning world ominium champion Glenn O’Shea will make the transition from the track to the road after pouring his focus into the Olympic Games last summer. He is joined by Kiwis Shane Archbold and Aaron Gate on the team. All three riders are currently competing in the UCI Track World Championships in Minsk, Belarus, and will debut for the team in April.
The team also includes eight Belgians: with Eeckhout, Pieter Ghyllebert and Niels Wytinck are five new Belgians; Laurent Vanden Bak, Wout Franssen, Alphonse Vermote, Steven Van Vooren and Nicholas Vereecken.
The An Post sponsored team was set up by Sean Kelly seven years ago as an extension of the Sean Kelly Academy to give young Irish cyclists a base from which to compete in Belgium, with the pro team designed to give young Irish riders access to a programme of top international races. This is An Post’s sixth year sponsoring the team.