Landbouwkrediet-Colnago continues youth focus

Belgian team Landbouwkrediet-Colnago presented its squad on Friday in Anderlecht, Brussels. For 2005, the Continental Professional team will maintain its focus on developing young riders to become full professionals. "The ProTour was necessary, but I organised things differently," said manager Gérard Bulens, who could not outbid Omega Pharma and Quick.Step for the two Belgian ProTour licences. "A number of smaller sponsors became the basis for our team. Therefore we give the young riders plenty of chances."

Team director Claude Criquielion, whose son Mathieu is joining as a neo-pro, said that "We're the Belgian team with the most young guys. It won't bear fruit this year, but certainly next year." The team's young guns include 2003 U23 world champion Sergey Lagutin, Tour of Luxembourg winner Maxime Monfort, Sven Renders, James Vanlandschoot, Nico Sijmens and neo-pro's Steven Cummings, Mathieu Criquielion, Gregory Habeaux, Jean-Paul Simon, Jurgen Van Loocke.

That being said, there are still plenty of experienced riders such as Ludovic Capelle, Glenn d'Hollander, Johan Verstrepen and Geert Verheyen, with Ludo Dierckxsens still being a possibility to re-sign with the team. "I will never close the door for him," said Bulens.

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago has lost some of its higher profile riders, such as Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery), Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto) and Jacky Durand (retirement). "I'm happy that we were able to give Popovych the transfer that he dreamed of," said Bulens. "Durand is a great guy but he understood that there was no place for him in a young team without the Tour. Steels is really disappointing, because he gave us a lot of publicity."

Click here for the full team roster

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