Norwegian Continental team Joker Bianchi looks forward to the 2010 season with a young but talented squad that includes three newcomers. Since its beginnings in 2005, the squad has been successful in building up young riders that eventually reached the highest level of cycling. Amongst others, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Lars Petter Nordhaug (both Sky) and Alexander Kristoff (BMC) all came from the Joker Bianchi team when they started their pro careers.
In this way, the squad 'lost' three riders at the end of last season (Nordhaug, Kristoff and Frederik Wilmann, who left to to Skil-Shimano), and therefore had to sign new talent. "Norway has a strong tail wind when it comes to cycling these days, there are a lot of exciting names out there," said sports director Gino Van Oudenhove.
"We had been following the three new riders for a while, and have seen how they have developed in their former clubs or teams." Van Oudenhove chose Vegard Breen, Vegard Robinson Bugge and Christer Rake to join the squad, which still includes other strong riders.
Stian Remme and Christer Rake, for example, both represented Norway in the 2009 Worlds in Mendrisio, and Rake finished 12th at the U23 road race. Another important rider on the team is Svein Erik Vold, who adds experience and routine to the young outfit. "With the loss of radio communication in all cat. 2 races, Vold's role will be more central than before," continued Van Oudenhove, who was optimistic about the team's results this year.
"I have a really good feeling before the season start, and I really believe that we still will be able to be represented on the top of the overall classifications in major European stage races," he said.
The team will start the season in France and Belgium this year, not in Croatia as usual. "The Tour de Normandie is a very important race for us during the spring, and it was unfortunately not possible to combine Croatia and Normandie this season," added Van Oudenhove. The team's first race will be GP Lillers in France on March 7.
The 2010 Joker Bianchi roster is: Svein Erik Vold, Ingar Stokstad, Sondre Gjerdevik Sørtveit, Stian Remme, Vegard Stake Laengen, Ole Haavardsholm, Vegard Breen (new), Vegard Robinson Bugge (new) and Christer Rake (new).