Landbouwkrediet looks to Beijing

Team Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner is going into the 2008 season with five new riders and is looking forward to not only the regular races but also the Olympic games. Unfortunately, it is also on the list of teams whose sponsorship contract expires at the end of the season.

The Belgian Professional Continental Team expects to send three riders to the Olympic Games – mountain biker Filip Meirhaeghe and the two British track riders Paul Manning and Ed Clancy.

The newcomers are the Belgian riders Tom Steels, Benjamin Gourgue and Sébastien Delfosse, Dutch rider Dirk Bellemakers and Briton Ian Stannard. Steels returns to the team after three years at Lotto, and expects to end his career at Landbouwkrediet. "Tom is a great man, both as an athlete and as a person," said team manager Gerard Bulens. "The fact that he wants to end his career at our team gives me a feeling of satisfaction."

Bulens hopes that the team improves on the number of wins from the last season, but said that in 2007, he knew that "the most important objective of our sponsor was visibility," which he feels the riders provided. "We hope to also play a role in 2008. With Bert De Waele's win in the GP de Wallonne, we showed that as a team we are able to win races at the highest level with the biggest teams in the world."

The team also announced that it is continuing its co-operation with the British Cycling Federation, with Manning and Clancy joining the team for their preparations for Beijing. 20 year-old Stannard is also with the team. "I like rolling courses, but nothing to hilly," he said. "Racing in Belgium suits me, with the wind, the rain and the cobbles."

Clancy and Manning will be on the British pursuit team. "I look to win the title in Peking," Manning said, "and in this way I can do something in return for the complete staff and sponsors of Landbouwkrediet, which is an excellent team for us."

The team is also pinning its hopes in the Olympics on Meirhaeghe. "The whole team will put everything into its efforts to bring Filip in his best condition for Beijing. Filip's performance will reflect on the rest of the riders," Luc Versele, Landbouwkrediet's CEO said told the Gazet van Antwerpen.

Versele assured that his company would stay with the team throughout the season. "We will not walk away from out responsibility and will therefore certainly comply with our contract. We are a company that puts a high value on people, and we would never leave a sinking ship. We will not leave as long as Gerard and the team have no security for the future, and perhaps we will stay even after 2008."

For the team's full roster see the Cyclingnews Teams Database.

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