By Kirsten Robbins
With a request for a UCI professional continental licence in the works and the subsequent objective of wild card rides in the the Grand Tours, International Team H2O has yet to sign a GC contender, however.
Despite media reports to the contrary, Filippo Simeoni is currently undergoing negotiations with the new squad and the team is progressing in the right direction, according to directeur sportif Francesco Frattini. "I want to make it clear once and for all that our team is alive and well," said Frattini. "And this team is moving into the market in the best way to bring forward our project for the Humanitarian Association H2O."
While the reigning Italian national champion is technically still on the market, Frattini confirmed that discussions remain in good shape. International Team H20 has confirmed 16 riders for the 2009 season. The three latest signings include Jempy Drucker from Luxembourg, Valentin Iglinski from Kazakhstan and two Belgian riders Wim Vanhuffell and Jonas Vangenechten.
While the team is hopeful that Simeoni will fill the leading role, the updated roster does includes former Scott-American Beef sprinter Luciano Pagliarini of Brazil, and Italy's Paolo Bailetti, former LPR-Ballan all-rounder, both of whom have signed one-year contracts.
The team already announced a number signings earlier this month, and it has been confirmed that directeur sportif will be former French national team manager Frédéric Moncassin, plus former Mitsubishi staff members Walter Meas and Roman Lubovyy. Massino Besnati will be team doctor.