By Ben Atkins, UK Editor
The Sigma Sport - Specialized - Sportful Team was presented today by Eurosport's cycling commentator David Harmon at the Hampton Court Palace Golf Club - just a stone's throw away from King Henry VIII's great palace on the banks of the River Thames. The addition of US bike and equipment makers Specialized and Italian clothing specialists Sportful to the existing team that has been sponsored by Sigma Sport, one of the south west London area's leading bike shops, means a great increase in budget and the opportunity to build a team to support its leading riders.
The team will be led by long-term Sigma Sport rider, former double British national champion Matt Stephens, who recently turned 38 but claims he feels as strong as ever, and 2005 Premier Calendar overall winner Rob Sharman, signed from KFS Special Vehicles. Stephens has often in the past appeared to be riding alone against the superior strength of other teams, but from this year the two captains will be ably supported by a mostly new line-up of Alex Wise, Dan Duguid, Mike Harrison, James Williamson and Neil Swithenbank. Major targets for the team will be the individual Premier Calendar races as well as the overall competition for Sharman, as well as the National Criterium Series and National Championships.
In addition to name sponsorship, Specialized will be providing the team with S-Works Tarmac SL frames - with Roval wheels and Red groupsets provided by SRAM - as well as helmets, eyewear and shoes. Italian clothing specialists Sportful will be providing race and casual clothing.