The Marco Polo Cycling Team, China's first professional cycling team, will be officially launched at a press conference in Zhuhai, South China, on January 2. The team is based upon an agreement between the Chinese Cycling Association and the World Wide Cycling Foundation (management Marco Polo Cycling Project), that runs from January 1, 2005 till December 31, 2008. The aim of the agreement is to develop the level of Chinese riders towards the international pro-level before the Olympic Games in Beijing.
The team will start this year with 12 riders, with a more to be added later this season. It's composed of an existing core of international riders: Mike Carter (USA), Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Mgl), Robin Reid (NZl), Chi Yin Leung (HKg) and Maarten Tjallingii (Ned), with four new Chinese riders and three new internationals to be added: Tong Yu, Li Fuyu, Chengguang Yu, Gang Xu (all Chn), Rhys Pollock (Aus), Eddy Hollands (Aus), Rene Van Oord (Ned).
The international riders are to make the base of the team strong and bring experience and stability. The Chinese riders are in the team to learn and gain experience in international competition. The team's goals in 2005 will be a top ranking in the UCI Asia Tour for teams and have the Chinese riders gain experience in European pro-am racing.
The Marco Polo Cycling Team will be sponsored by Trek Bikes, Nestlé Pure Life, Craft, Volkswagen, Setpoint, JP Print, Vredestein, Lake, Tacx, Gazelle, Axley, Born Sportscare, Keywin, Nikon, Selle Italia, Pazzaz, Universal automation, Bontrager, Limar and Sigma Sport. Some of these companies are sponsoring the team, some the Marco Polo Cycling School training centre in The Netherlands and some both.
Team website: www.marcopolocycling.com