Giant-Alpecin and Liv-Plantur teams presented in Berlin

Team hoping to rekindle passion for cycling in Germany

The men's Giant-Alpecin team and the women's Liv-Plantur team revealed their new colours and new ambitions for the 2015 season at an official presentation in Berlin on Wednesday.

The Giant-Alpecin team is registered in Germany for the 2015 season and the presentation was held at the French Embassy in Berlin in the presence of UCI President Brian Cookson, the general director of the Tour de France Christian Prudhomme and the director of the Vuelta a Espana Javier Guillén.

Alpecin is a German brand of shampoo and has joined Giant as a title sponsor of the WorldTour team after 50 years of sponsoring events and smaller teams. German cycling fans and especially the German media has snubbed professional cycling since the doping scandals of the Telekom team. However German state television has confirmed it will broadcast the Tour de France live in 2015, and after a five year absence, a WorldTour team will again be registered in Germany.

The riders from the Giant-Alpecin and Liv-Plantur showed the new 2015 team colours on stage during the presentation and talked about their hopes and goals for the season. The men's team has a new black, red and blue design, while the women will race in black, green and white colours. Liv and Plantur are the women's brands for Giant and Alpecin.

Marcel Kittel will again lead the team in the sprints, with fellow German John Degenkolb to target the Classics and hillier stages that end in sprints. Stand out riders include time trialist Tom Dumoulin, who extended his contract until the end of 2016, and talented French stage racer Warren Barguil.

Kittel won 13 races in 2014, including the first stage at the Tour de France, which gave him the yellow jersey for a day, and the final stage on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

“The moment when you win and cross the line, that what keeps me motivated,” he said during the presentation. “As is seeing the other riders behind and the process of making a team successful. I like that.”

John Degenkolb celebrated his birthday and celebrated the resurgence of interest in German cycling.

“We've fought through some hard years and the work we've done has come become successful because German sponsors are coming into our team again. That's special and I'm happy to have this name (Alpecen) on our chest,” he said.

The Giant-Alpecin team includes four American riders: Lawson Craddock, Caleb Fairly, Carer Jones and Chad Haga. Craddock is in his second season with the team.

“I had a lot fun in my first year in 2014 and so I'm really excited for this year,” he said.

“We've got some cool sponsors and you might even see me grow a pony tail. We've got a great group of guys who are motivated to have success on and off the bike. Hopefully you'll see some big results from us this year.”

The women's Liv-Plantur women's team includes Amy Pieters and Britain's Lucy Garner.

“We hope we can build the work we did last year,” Garner said. "It is a development team but its an opportunity for young riders to step up and gain experience. I think we can get some nice results and good memories in 2015,” she said.

Spekenbrink optimistic about the fight against doping

Team manager Iwan Spekenbrink has developed and grown both the men's and women's team in recent years with a philosophy of constant improvement and a hashtag of #keepchallenging. He now hopes the team help can help rekindle the passion for professional cycling in Germany.

“I hope today reflects a new start for the sport of cycling in Germany. Where here to present a men's and women's programmes. We're very proud of that,” he said during the presentation, revealing a project with the German Cycling Federation to develop young German talent.

“We want to make the team stronger. Keep challenging means basically two things: working together and working with a clear set of principles. And understanding that elite sport is the one race that never ends. You always have to keep improving. We have taken control of the riders in our own hands and believe we can improve with coaching, expertise and science. We always have to challenge the current standard, not only in the riders but how we support them. We want to make the team stronger in the right sense. We don't start thinking about results, we focus on the process that leads to results. We believe we can help the riders improve and then be in the finale of the races and then the results will follow.”

Spekenbrink was not afraid to talk about the fight against doping and insisted the sport is doing the right thing to dispel the lingering doubts.

“It's good to say that cycling has become a front fighter. Cycling really wanted to understand the problem,” he said.

“Elite sports is one of the most competitive industries out there. Everyone is competitive. It is bad but it is logical that doping found its way into elite sport. Cycling has done the only one thing that helps: they invested and made together the biggest and best anti-doping system in the world. We still have riders who test positive, which is a bad thing, but without this system we would not be racing.

"Now we are at a crossroads. There is a lot of suspicion but now we need facts and as stakeholders we have to work with the best system, expand it and make sure we close the gap from suspicion to facts. Then it is easy to regulate. Then we can get the bad boys out of the game and most of all protect the good guys.”

The men’s team will make its 2015 season debut at the Tour Down Under, while the women’s teams will get their 2015 campaign underway in February at the Ladies Tour of Qatar. Lars van der Haar will line-up for his first cyclo-cross race in the new team colours on January 11, at the Dutch National Championships.

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