Miguel Martinez ready for fresh start at new team

Former Olympic Champ presented with G-Skin Deforche Mountain Bike Team in Paris

The G-Skin Deforche MTB Racing Team presented its 2010 roster, including former Olympic cross country champion Miguel Martinez on Friday in the Latin Quarter of Paris, France. Master of ceremonies Jacques Ninane introduced the team's riders, ranging from juniors to experienced international racers.

"I am delighted today to present this wonderful team," said Manager Simon Gueuning. "At first I was hoping to get into the top 25 mountain bike teams. Today, I began dreaming of entering the top 10."

Frenchman Miguel Martinez is the team's best known rider. The multi-time World Champion and World Cup round winner has won two Olympic medals, including gold in Sydney, Australia, 2000. His long-term goal is the 2010 Olympic Games, and he'll be working over the next two years to collect more UCI points as a way to get there. In 2010, he is aiming for a top-10 finish in the World Cup.

"2009 was a bad year for me in sport and out of sport," said Martinez. His Felt International team folded early in the season, and he had to address allegations from a former domestic partner.  2010 is already  looking brighter for him. 

"Atalian, my private sponsor, signed me up until the London 2012 Games, which should be my last race. Then I will continue working at my mountain bike centre project in Fayence - which I've put aside for now to dedicate my self to training and racing."

Martinez said he was motivated to continue racing after hearing of Jean Christophe Peraud's departure from mountain bike racing to road racing.  "That was the trigger," he said.  "There will be three Frenchmen in London.  If (Julien) Absalon and (Alexis) Vuillermoz seems inevitable, the third spot should be played out between (Cedric) Ravannel, (Stephane) Tempier and me!"

Martinez explained just how he might help his fellow French racers in international competitions like the worlds and Olympics.  "I could play an important role in responding to a block by the Swiss riders and assist (Julien) Absalon in pursuit of a French medal."  In recent years, the Swiss riders have fielded many top riders, who've taken turns excelling at the World Cups and World Championships.

Martinez has already spent some time with his new teammates.  He's been in Belgium, where the team is officially based, prior to the team launch.  "In 2009, at the Roc d'Azur, I rode the last 15 miles with my new teammate Bjorn Brems," said Martinez, "and he impressed me."

Brems had a good year with a podium at the Belgian championships where he finished ahead of Filip Meirhaeghe. He also showed promise by finishing 38th at two World Cups - one in Madrid and one in Schladming. Top 25 World Cup finishes are on his to-do list for 2010.

"When I signed for this team, there was no mention of Martinez," said Brems. "I think he has much to teach us. I've been training up to 34 hours per week this winter, and I'll be also racing on the road with the An Post Sean Kelly team, which will provide ideal preparation for mountain bike races."

Others on the team include juniors Lucien Tournay, Fabrice Mels, Elise Marchal; Under 23s Denis Jacquemin and Brice Scholtes; and elites Thibaut Henin, Thomas Kiss, Joris Massaer and Pascal Hossay.

The team's two title sponsors are G-Skin and Deforche. G-Skin is a new Luxembourg-based brand of technical cycling, triathlon and athletic clothing while Deforche is a construction company specializing in the horticultural sector.

The team will ride Granville Bikes this season and will race in over 12 countries in events such as the World Cup, the Bundesliga, the Coupe de France, the AlpenTour and the L'Hexagonal VTT Tour de France.

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