Team Barloworld-Valsir will once again have a strong South African core after it was announced today that four of the country's top cyclists would ride for the squad in 2006. Barloworld-Valsir have retained three of the South African riders from its 2005 roster and re-signed James Perry, who rode for the team in the 2004 season.
Negotiations with South African champion, Ryan Cox, still need to be finalised. Cox had a successful season during which he won the Tour de Langkawi, and is currently the second-highest ranked rider on the UCI Asian Tour, despite having raced on that continent just twice this season. During the Tour of Britain, Cox was seen as the face of the race, as his image was used on posters advertising the event all over the country.
The "Iron Man" of South African cycling and a former national champion, Jock Green, has been retained for his dedication and invaluable hard work as a super domestique. Jeremy Maartens, regarded as one of the most talented riders to come out of South Africa in years, will be back in the saddle with Barloworld-Valsir and much is expected of him in 2006.
Another former South African champion and the winner of the 2005 Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Giro Del Capo, Tiaan Kannemeyer, who suffered a bad injury during a race in Germany earlier this year when he crashed and broke his femur, will also line up with the squad in 2006. He has been in rehabilitation for most of the year and is planning on making a solid impact when he returns to competition.
Perry's return to Barloworld-Valsir comes after a very successful season with Konica-Minolta in which he won races in Europe and South Africa. A bronze medallist at the 2001 under-23 World Championships time trial, Perry finished 26th in the elite time trial at this year's World Championships in Madrid.
The contracts of Darren Lill, who has struggled with form in his time with the team, and David George, have not been renewed as Barloworld-Valsir looks to build on its successful 2005 and focus on gaining more results in Europe.
"The intention is to build a young team which can be built on for the future," said John Robertson, the manager of Barloworld-Valsir. "The team has achieved everything that we can possibly do in South Africa, and the future of the team is in Europe. There is therefore an obligation to purchase the best riders possible to fulfil all the sponsors' objectives regardless of nationality. David is an outstanding professional, who has been on the team since its inception and we hold him in high regard and thank him for the contribution he has made to the team."