A new professional continental squad will enter the peloton in 2009 with the name Vacansoleil Cycling Team. Sponsored by a camping vacation company, the squad will be built upon the existing P3 Transfer-Batavus European Continental team, and will be run by current team manager Daan Luijkx. 18 riders have been signed to the squad, including up and coming riders Bobbie Traksel and Aart Vierhouten.
A statement issued by Vacansoleil laid out the team's ambitions. "The mission of the Vacansoleil Cycling Team is to create a solid base and close team during 2009 with a view to expanding the number of Pro-tour races in 2010 and participating in a major race in 2011."
The company signed on for three years as title sponsor "with its contribution increasing throughout the period". Bicycle manufacturer Batavus is also said to have made a three-year commitment. "For 2009 the Vacansoleil Cycling Team will work with a budget of between three and four million euro. This will increase significantly each year. With this level of support the Vacansoleil Cycling Team will be a European team that will be able to compete internationally for victories."
Vacansoleil previously sponsored football teams, but wanted to expand its focus to cycling in order to reach several countries with one team. It was not put off by the doping problems within the sport. "Cycling is a sport which is very close to the people; a sport which is very popular in many European countries. However it is also a sport which has had difficult times in the past few years. We believe that things can move forward again and are convinced that with Daan and the cyclists he selects, we have made a good choice. They will show that cycling is a great activity that can be sporting, transparent and ambitious and that can be practiced in a positive way. With this message we hope to make contact with many of the people of Europe."
Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A swimmer in her younger days, Laura made the change to cycling later in life, but was immediately swept up by a huge passion for the sport. Riding for fitness quickly gave way to the competitive urge, and a decade of racing later she can look back on a number of high profile races and say with confidence, "I started". While her racing days are over for the most part, she continues to dabble in cyclo-cross and competing against fellow pathletes on the greenways of Raleigh, North Carolina.
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