The Lampre-Merida team has appointed Brent Copeland as its new team manager as it continues to rebuild and evolve into a more international team.
Lampre-Merida has signed new world champion Rui Costa as team leader for the Tour de France and hilly Classics but lost stage race leader Michele Scarponi, who has signed with Astana. Filippo Pozzato remains as team leader for the cobbled classics, with Diego Ulissi confirming his talents for one-day races. New signings for 2014 include sprinter Sacha Modolo, China’s Gang Xu and Rafael Valls.
The team has been heavily implicated in a doping investigation in Mantova that is set to finally go to trial on December 10. The case is centred around pharmacist Guido Nigrelli, who is one of one of 27 people set to go to trial after a drawn-out investigation by Italian police.
These include Saronni, directeur sportif Maurizio Piovani and Fabrizio Bontempi and 15 current or former Lampre riders including Marzio Bruseghin, Damiano Cunego, Simone Ponzi and Mauro Santambrogio, who tested positive at the Giro d'Italia while riding for the Vini Fantini team. The Lampre-Merida team has always backed the staff and riders involved, insisting they will be cleared of the accusations when the trial begins.
Bike sponsor Merida joined forces with Lampre for the 2013 season, sparking the process of internalisation of the traditionally Italian team.
Lampre-Merida said Copeland will be “responsible for the management and organization of the team, both the staff and riders working in close contact with the sport directors for the sporting area, the medical staff and responsible for the training, logistics and race program.”
Copeland was a full-time and part-time directeur sportif with Lampre between 1999 and 2009 before working with MotoGP pilot Ben Spies for three years. He returned to cycling as European manager of the MTN-Qhubeka team for 2013, helping the South African step up to the Professional Continental ranks this year but left after disagreements about the management of the team.
Giuseppe Saronni will stay with the team “focusing on the research and management of financial backers, sponsors and partners for the team.”
Copeland will begin his new role immediately, working with head coach Michele Bartoli and the technical staff to plan and prepare for the 2014 season.
“The request of taking on the role of team manager makes me proud: Lampre has always been my Italian family, they welcomed me fifteen years ago, there has always been a special bond with the blue-fuchsia colors,” Copeland said in a statement from the team.
“The decision to accept this responsibility was easy, even if it was not based only on sentimental reasons. In fact, I appreciate being asked to be involved in the internationalization and the evolution of the team, an evolution which works towards finding the perfect balance of professionalism and organisation in the modern world of cycling. I’m ready and determined to help this transition and I know I can rely on a group of excellent people that are professional in each one of their areas of excellence.”
“This will be a team effort starting from a good level of ability and experience, so we can broaden our international dimension and also ensure that young riders are a fundamental resource for our future”