Cannondale and Vredestein hit the dirt

Bike manufacturer Cannondale, sponsor of the dominant mountain bike racing team of the 1990s, has announced that it is returning to the World Cup cross-country circuit in 2006 with a new squad in partnership with tyre maker Vredestein.

The four-rider team features two familiar faces and two up-and-coming talents. Swede Fredrik Kessiakoff, who rode for the Siemens/Cannondale team in 2005 remains aboard a Cannondale. Kessiakoff was fourth in the World Cup rankings this year and eighth in the Marathon series after winning the final round.

New Zealander Kashi Leuchs returns to Cannondale for 2006, and will be targeting the World Cup and the 2006 World Championships in his native New Zealand. "I'm excited to return to the Cannondale family and also to be able to contribute to a racer support program like the one I started with," said Leuchs, referring to Cannondale Europe's plans to launch a grassroots program in 2006.

Two Danish riders complete the roster. Peter Riis Anderson is currently 12th in the UCI world rankings, and finished fourth at the Marathon World Championships. His compatriot Jakob Fuglsang is the reigning under 23 World Cup champion and currently the top rider in the UCI under 23 ranking.

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