By Steve Thomas
Former Tour de France stage winner Leon van Bon has extended his racing contract with the Trek - Marco Polo Cycling Team for 2009, following on from his debut season with the globe trotting continental team in 2008. He will race at least another season with the team in various races in both Asia and in other parts of the world, including on home territory in Europe.
His long and varied experience of racing at the highest professional level with major teams, and in both the Classics and Grand Tours, will be an invaluable asset in the team's mission. The mission to develop bright young Asian cycling talents, all as a part of his designated role as team captain.
"I had a very nice season in 2008, we race a great programme and there is not much pressure from the team, so I can combine it well with my other activities," Van Bon said. He is also racing the Six Day races on the track during the winter time, and in his newly "scaled down travelling career" has taken up photography, grasping the traveling opportunity to take pictures.
Team Manager Guido Kramer welcomed his decision to continue racing. "Of course the team is very happy with his decision to stay on board. Not only because of the extra publicity and status he offers to the team, but mainly because of his experience, which he uses well to teach our Asian riders. He is a perfect role model for the young riders who learn a lot from him."
Other riders that will be staying with the Trek - Marco Polo Cycling Team for 2009 will include Fuyu Li, Xing Yan Dong and the new Chinese Champion, Liu Yili. Also staying in the teal blue racing colours are Japanese riders Genta Nakamura, Toyohiro Oka and Yu Takenouchi. Their compatriot Yuuya Asaki will be joining the team in 2009.
Malaysian long-term team member Loh Sea Keong, who won a stage in the Tour of Thailand, continues for the new season. Other new riders to the team include Eric van de Meent from the Netherlands, James Spragg from England (second in the U23 British Championship 2006) and South African top-talent Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Winner U23 classification and third overall Giro del Capo). More riders, including two Chinese athletes, will be confirmed soon.