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The An Post Sean Kelly team plans its strategy.
Top riders retained, while young riders bring freshness to outfit
The line-up for the 2012 An Post-Sean Kelly Cycling team was revealed in Brussels on Thursday, with an 18-man team announced, that includes 10 new signings.
Team manager Kurt Bogaerts is excited about the squad he has put together and the fact the team has kept several of their top riders that they expected
"I think the squad looks very strong this year. We were able to keep riders like Bagdonas and McNally, who had done enough to make the next step up to the Pro Tour. However, circumstances changed and although I was disappointed they didn’t get their move it means we retained two good riders."
There will be a strong Irish contingent once again as Mark Cassidy, Sam Bennett and Ronan McLaughlin have all been re-signed, as well as a permanent return to the side for Connor McConvey who re-joined the setup at the end of last season. Talented young Irish rider Sean Downey has also penned a one year deal with the team.
"My first few weeks with the team have been really enjoyable. We had a couple of great training camps in Calpe and then racing in the Etoile De Besseges last week was a tough, but good experience. I’m hungry for more of these opportunities to show what I can do," Downey said.
2011 An Post Rás victor and Tour of Britain stage winner Gediminas Bagdonas has been retained by the team after a proposed move to the ProTour fell through. While Liverpudlian Mark McNally has also inked a new one-year deal following the collapse of his move to Europcar. Jonathan Bellis links up with the team after his stint with Saxo Bank finished at the end of last year.
"We had an excellent year in 2011 with some outstanding results and I expect us to be at that level again this season," added Bogaerts. "We have made plenty of new signings with a lot of talented young riders coming on board, so for some it will be a case of developing them long term but the team still has that level of experience required to get some big results over the year."
The Belgian-based, Irish sponsored continental team will be racing a similar program as previous years, with the biggest goal the 60th anniversary of the An Post Ras coming in May.
2012 An Post Sean Kelly Team
Mark Cassidy (Irl)
Ronan McLaughlin (Irl)
Sam Bennett (Irl)
Sean Downey (Irl)
Connor McConvey (Irl)
Mark McNally (GBr)
Mark Christian (GBr)
Jonathan Bellis (GBr)
Jonathan Mould (GBr)
Niko Eeckhout (Bel)
Pieter Ghyllabert (Bel)
Joren Segers (Bel)
Nils Wytinck (Bel)
Roy Jans (Bel)
Kenneth Van Bilsen (Bel)
Stijn Ennekens (Bel)
Scott Law (Aus)
Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu)