By Gerard Knapp
Moving up a grade can be a daunting task, but for the British registered DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed squad, it has at least given itself a very good chance of succeeding where and when it will count.
And for this squad, it will be the all-important upcoming races in northern European countries like Belgium, Holland and France over the next few months. The team, which has made the jump from the UCI's Continental to Professional Continental status in 2007, will be led by a very fit and motivated Nico Mattan, the wily 34 year old Belgian seemingly determined to show the ProTour teams who didn't offer him a contract for 2007 that he is still capable of taking out a major race, like he did with his victory at Gent-Wevelgem in 2005 while with Davitamon-Lotto.
Supporting Mattan will be a multinational squad of 18, including two reigning national champions - Great Britain's Hamish Haynes and Finland's Matti Helminem - and on the weekend prior to their official launch in Holland, Dutchman Jens Mouris bagged a gold medal in the Madison at the Manchester round of the UCI Track world cup, partnering Danny Stam in a convincing display on the boards.
Mouris is one of the team's quiet strongmen and he was back across the channel in time for the launch event, held at the McDOS Goffertstadion in Nijmegen, Holland, on Monday, February 26. The choice of a Dutch premier league football stadium may have seemed incongruous to a cycling squad, except it was an example of a new sponsor for the team leveraging an existing sports sponsorship asset.
For the full DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed team launch feature, click here.