Donckers Koffie will be the new title sponsor of the Marco Polo Cycling Team in 2012. Thanks to the new partnership with Donckers Koffie, the UCI Continental team - which is also the first Continental team ever to be based out of Ethiopia - following 10 years of success in China - will be able to race a full pro-level program in Europe, with additional races in Asia and Africa.
Rudi Donckers, owner of Donckers Koffie said he hoped the deal would be the start of a long partnership with Marco-Polo, and was particularly keen to see the young African riders in the team progress.
"We expect to make a large contribution to this development team and its African riders, and we hope to see the young guys develop as we visit the races throughout the year."
The 19-strong roster will consist of six Ethiopian riders that will join forces with an experienced core of pro riders including Matthé Pronk, Jan Kuyckx and Léon van Bon, who have all renewed their contracts with the team. New Zealand Olympic track medal candidates Marc Ryan (Team Pursuit) and Shane Archbold (Omnium) will also ride a selected part of the team’s programme in Europe to complement their Olympic build-up.
Team director Gilbert de Weerdt was excited to be taking on a more expansive program in Europe in 2012.
"We will race numerous 1.1, 1.2 and pro races, with a focus in Belgium and in The Netherlands. Between the one day races, we will also be targeting some important international stage races in Europe, Africa and Asia. The team will also be supporting the African guys at several Cyclosportive events this season with the aim of following on from our success in the Gran Fondo Eddy Merckx last year, where Solomon Shiferaw showcased his climbing prowess by winning in the Ardennes.
"I think this program and our team of incredibly talented athletes combined with the experienced ‘oldies’, will give a fantastic opportunity to the younger guys to develop themselves, hopefully scoring some results in this highly competitive program along the way."
Marco Polo Cycling - Donckers Koffie 2012 team:
Sven De Weerdt (Bel), Jan Kuyckx (Bel), Matthias Van Mechelen (Bel), Daniel Abraham (Eri), Ruben Abello Sanchez (Spa), Alem Grmay Abebe (Eth), Binyam Fitsum Bekele (Eth), Estifanos Kebede Gebresilassie (Eth), Kbrom Hailay Giday (Eth), Yirga Woidemariam Kinfe (Eth), Solomon Bitew Shiferaw (Eth), Chris Bartlett (GBr), Matt Green (GBr), Mathe Pronk (Ned), Leon Van Bon (Ned), Shane Archbold (NZl), Christopher Macic (NZl), Marc Ryan (NZl), Edward Greene (RSA),