By Ben Abrahams
D&D Management, the company that ran Team DFL-Cyclingnews in 2007, has revealed plans to form an Australian registered Continental squad to be based in Belgium this season. Named Team Cyclingnews (and sponsored by this web site), the squad is seeking young Australian riders, and some more experienced names, to join its ranks and commence the Belgian road season on March 1.
"We'll be targeting the 1.1 and 1.2 level races on the European calendar," explained Gilbert De Weerdt, who will manage the team alongside Rudi Dubois. "We're also looking at stage races like the Tour of Britain and Tour of Ireland."
Despite having less than a month to complete the team's roster, De Weerdt was confident of finding riders and said that negotiations were already in progress with several names. "We've been talking to Hamish Haynes and Matti Helminen," he said. "And we're looking for between five and seven Australian riders who are under 27 years old."
Both De Weerdt and Dubois have several years experience in team management, starting in 2001 with amateur squad Team Down Under. "When we started eight years ago we had a group of Australian and British riders who came over to Belgium, paid for their accommodation and started racing and winning," said De Weerdt.
"That's what we will do again. We are looking for some young, talented, English speaking riders who want to invest in their sport by coming to Belgian and learning the hard way. We offer a full staff with the experience of having worked in professional teams, team house, cars and a race program from March 1 till November 30."
After seeing the likes of Matt Wilson, Glen Chadwick and Ben Brooks pass through its ranks, De Weerdt and Dubois decided to form a new Continental team in 2003 which then became known as Team Cyclingnews in 2004, reflecting its new sponsor.
In 2006 British transport firm Driving Force Logistics (DFL) took over as the main sponsor, providing an increased budget which allowed the team to make the step to Professional Continental level last year. After DFL decided to end its involvement following the 2007 season, the search began for a new sponsor to allow the team to continue at the Professional Continental level.
That sponsor appeared to have materialised in the shape of British bicycle retailer Pedaltech, until the UCI turned down the team's application for a Professional Continental licence because the appropriate paperwork and original bank guarantee were not in order by the November deadline.
Subsequent events remain somewhat mysterious. Pedaltech eventually withdrew its funding for the team with company principal Michael Matts citing various personal reasons for the decision.
Riders wishing to be considered for the new team are encouraged to contact Gilbert De Weerdt at firstname.lastname@example.org