New cyclo-cross team Sunweb-Projob presented

By Brecht Decaluwé From January 1, 2007 the dominance of Fidea and Rabobank in cyclo-cross might be...

Sven Vanthourenhout is the team's best rider

By Brecht Decaluwé

From January 1, 2007 the dominance of Fidea and Rabobank in cyclo-cross might be over. A new Belgian team was presented on Monday by team manager Jurgen Mettepenningen; the Belgian is combining this position with an organizing role in the cyclo-cross races of Hamme-Zogge and Wachtebeke. Around two hundred invitees were introduced to the team's future riders, who were all present except for Tom Vannoppen who's silently working on his comeback at the highest level. The new team is named Sunweb-Projob, with the first company being a travel agency and the latter mainly selling sector specific working clothes.

The two biggest names Sven Vanthourenhout and Jan Jakke Verstraeten weren't presented on the podium, Mettepenningen explained this wouldn't have been appropriate towards the sponsors of their respective current teams, Rabobank and SD Worx. "We will receive enough media attention after New Year," Mettepenningen said. He expressed his desire to compete with Rabobank and Fidea at the highest level in cyclo-cross, with the Belgian championship in Hamme being the first big appointment for the team.

Another big name in the new team is the Belgian amateur champion David Willemsens, who finished eleventh in the latest world cup race in Koksijde. "With his current form he should be able to prolong that Belgian title, and with Sven Vanthourenhout we've got a serious candidate for gold in the pro race," Mettepenningen explained to

Steven Decaluwé and Jehudi Schoonacker will join David Willemenses as non-professional riders in the Sunweb-Projob team. With 20 year-old Maxim Debusschere, Kenneth Van Compernolle, Jan Van Dael and Kenny Geluykens there is much quality in the U23 team said Mario De Clercq, the three-time cyclo-cross world champion will be a coach in the new team. Sunweb-Projob has another known De Clercq in their ranks with coach Hans. The latter might be best known for finishing last in the Tour de France 2003, but he is also known for his work as a domestique during his time in Lotto team.

Team manager Jurgen Mettepenningen predicted that Tom Vannoppen, recently taken into hospital with depression, will race again on December 10. "Tom has left the hospital, but he's still supported by a psychologist, something which won't change quickly," Mettepenningen said. "He's mentally recovered but we will not allow him to slip away again. Currently he's only doing training sessions but in my race, Hamme-Zogge, he'll make his comeback," Vannoppen's future team manager said.

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