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Nürnberger hopes to build on early successes

The 2009 Equipe Nürnberger

The 2009 Equipe Nürnberger (Image credit: Olaf Grünewald)

By Susan Westemeyer in Nürnberg, Germany

Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung has already gotten its season off to a good start with two early victories. The team hopes that this is only a token of things to come, as it introduced its 2009 squad, Thursday evening in Nürnberg, Germany. One of the new hires is World time trial champion Amber Neben.

The team features not only four new riders but also a new Directeur Sportif, Jochen Dornbusch. He had previously served as the German national women's coach before moving over to the trade team. "After 10 years as Bundestrainer, having won almost everything there was, I was ready for a change," he said.

The team has 14 riders, 11 of them German. Five riders left the team, including Edita Pucinskaite, but it has four newcomers, the most prominent being Neben. "The team is super strong, and I hope to add a little salt to it," the American said. Her first goal at her new team "is to be a good teammate. We have a strong team and I think we will win a lot. My second goal is to do well in stage races. Then, of course, there are the Worlds at the end of the season," where she hopes to repeat her victory from last October in Varese.

The team's two wins so far are Suzanne de Goedes' victory last weekend in the women's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Eva Lutz's win in the second stage of the Ladies' Tour of Qatar.

Alexander Oppelt, assistant team manager, said it was good for the team to have done so well at the start of the season. "It reduces the pressure, it's like getting six numbers right in the lottery. We have a strong new team, with a new directeur sportif, and we never dreamed that it would go so fast."

Team manager Herbert Oppelt noted that the team has many young riders, and "it is important to us to do something for the future." His goal is for the team to finish in the top three of the team's ranking at the season's end. His son, Alexander, said that the team's two main races this season were the German Championships at the end of June and the hometown race of Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt, September 13.