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The German T-Mobile team has acquired two very experienced riders to bolster its grand tour squads...

T-Mobile beefs up with Gonchar, Mazzoleni and Scott Davis

The German T-Mobile team has acquired two very experienced riders to bolster its grand tour squads for next season. 35 year-old Ukrainian Serguei Gonchar (Domina Vacanze) for one year and 32 year-old Italian Eddy Mazzoleni (Lampre) for two years have been confirmed for Olaf Ludwig's squad. T-Mobile has also announced the signing of 26 year-old Australian Scott Davis (Tenax) on a one year deal.

There has been plenty speculation surrounding the addition of Gonchar and Mazzoleni in particular in recent weeks. "There were still a lot of contractual details to tidy up, so it wasn't possible until now to confirm the two signings", said Ludwig. "So many cycling experts reacted so positively to merely the speculation that these two riders would ride for us in the coming season". The additions are "without a doubt, a real strengthening of our 2006 Tour roster."

According to Ludwig, the 32 year-old Mazzoleni is a rider that is always improving. Mazzoleni finished 13th in the Tour de France this year, and said that he sees his role as "a helper for Jan Ullrich at the Tour de France. That's top of the agenda. It is both a challenge and a great honour for me to get the chance to assist T-Mobile's bid for a Tour win."

Mazzoleni's previous experience includes serving as a top gregario for Giro d'Italia winners Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego, but the Italian also has his own ambitions: "I see the Deutschland-Tour, San Sebastian and some Italian races as the kind of important events where I can bring top performances," he concluded.

2000 World Time Trial Champion Serguei Gonchar has the qualities to benefit T-Mobile's Tour roster. Last year, the Ukrainian impressed with a solid second place at the Giro d'Italia. "For me, the switch to T-Mobile is another forward step in my career," said Gonchar.

Olaf Ludwig also commented on Scott Davis, brother of Liberty Seguros sprinter Allan Davis. "With us, he will get the chance to learn the trade, and he will also link up with fellow Aussie Michael Rogers. Both of them can benefit from this," said Ludwig.

So far, T-Mobile has signed Patrik Sinkewitz and Michael Rogers (both Quick Step), Jörg Ludewig (Domina Vacanze), Thomas Ziegler (Gerolsteiner), Kim Kirchen and Lorenzo Bernucci (both Fassa Bortolo), in addition to the three latest.

Bates to LPR

Team LPR has announced its latest signing: Australian Gene Bates. The 24 year-old Italian based rider has spent this season with Zalf Desiree Fior, the breeding ground for riders such as Ivan Basso, Damiano Cunego and Paolo Savoldelli. In recent years, he has shown plenty of promise, winning Parma-La Spezia in 2004 and finishing second in a stage of the Baby Giro and the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under that year. He was also second in stage 3 of the JCTDU in 2005 and winner of the mountains jersey, as well as taking out the Australian U23 championship in 2003.

"I'm very excited with this new adventure," said Bates. "In Team LPR there are some great champions like Tonkov, Pieri, and Konyshev. I hope to learn a lot from their incredible experience. I already had a sample of the professional world when I was a stagiaire with Saeco [in 2004]. I went well, but then there was the merger with Lampre and at that time, there were no more places for neo-professionals.

"On a personal level, I consider myself a very serious rider, one who lives very rigorously for the profession of a cyclist. I'm an Australian through and through: relaxed, always happy, and obviously, I love the surf. In cycling, I consider myself a rider for the big classics, someone who can give their maximum in the one day races."

Santaromita to Quick.Step

Italian rider Ivan Santaromita will ride for the Quick.Step team for the next two years, his manager has confirmed. The 21 year-old from Clivio is the brother of ex-pro Antonio Santaromita. He has ridden for the last three seasons as an U23 with Velo Club Mendrisio and won two races this year. He has been riding as a stagiaire for Quick.Step and did the Giro del Lazio and Tour of Britain, finishing the latter in 63rd position.

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