The Skil-Shimano squad has become the next men's professional programme to add a women's team, joining Garmin-Cervelo, HTC-Columbia, Geox-TMC and the German continental Team Nutrixxion.
The new Skil-Koga team will be managed by Sissy van Alebeek, the 2001 Dutch champion and Skil-Shimano's commercial manager, and directed by retired cyclist Sharon van Essen.
Joining the team with the goal of preparing for the 2012 Olympic Games in London will be Regina Bruins, Suzanne de Goede, Amy Pieters, Roxane Knetemann, Hannah Welter and Marte Lenferink, as well as Germany's Christina Becker.
"This is a fantastic, special project, with a wonderful sporting focus, the road to the London Olympics in 2012," said Skil-Shimano's general manager Iwan Spekenbrink. "With this project, Skil and Koga connect men's and women's cycling in terms of marketing and communication."
Van Alebeek said the team will focus on preparing "one or more" of her riders for London. "There are obviously various other challenges on the schedule in this period, such as the Dutch championships and of course the world championships in Copenhagen and Limburg. It's a great challenge."
Bruins, the 2009 Dutch time trial champion who rode for the Cervélo TestTeam this year, chose the Skil-Koga programme over several other offers. "I come into a team with some talented, dedicated girls, who are all very similar," said Bruins. "I was especially looking for far-reaching, intensive guidance, in terms of coaching, equipment and aerodynamics, mental guidance and so on. I am confident this is the way to get the best out of myself over the next few years."
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