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AA Drink changes focus to 'cross, track

The Dutch AA Drink squad has pulled together its winter sports program into one team under Manager Michael Zijlaard for 2009 and dropped its support of the women's road racing team.

Former world cyclo-cross champion Richard Groenendaal will head the 'cross team along with Thijs Al, Stef Boden and Tijmen Eijsing. They will be joined by the track team of six-day riders Danny Stam and Robert Slippens, kilometer world champion Teun Mulder and former world points race champion Peter Schep.

The sports drink maker has been involved in several cycling sponsorships this season. It sponsored Groenendaal and Mulder as well as the Six Days of Rotterdam, but its main focus was on the women's squad, which was one of the world's most successful. Kirsten Wild chalked up wins in the Omloop Het Volk, a stage and second overall at the RaboSter Zeeuwsche Eilanden, three second place finishes in the women's Giro d'Italia and a podium at the women's Ronde Van Vlaanderen.

The new formation will continue supporting the 'cross and track programs with Shimano and BeOne as co-sponsors. The AA Cycling Team will begin competition on January 1, at the Grand Prix Sven Nys in Baal, Belgium, and on January 2 at the Six Days of Rotterdam. The season will be Groenendaal's last as an active racer, and he will continue with the squad as a director after his retirement from competition. In that position he will focus on the development and training of young cyclo-cross talent.