British based bicycle manufacturer Raleigh has announced its return to professional cycling sponsorship, founding Team Raleigh, a UK-based squad that will begin racing next year.
Team Raleigh has high ambitions: Coming back to the top of the European racing scene within five years. It will be start out as a UK-based team that will target the UK Premier Calendar, Tour series and Elite criteriums in its first season. It will also aim at securing invitations to the 2010 editions of the Tours of Britain and Ireland. The ambitious long-term plan will then see the team, which has applied for Continental status with the International Cycling Union (UCI), move onto the continent for bigger challenges.
"Raleigh aim to re-establish themselves at the very height of professional road racing again, 30 years after their 1980 Tour de France win, thus uniting their marketing and global range strategy, with an ambitious five-year plan," said the newly-founded squad in a press release this week.
Raleigh were highly visible in the professional peloton during the late 1970s and early 1980s. At the time, their TI-Raleigh squad was synonymous with success. Joop Zoetemelk, Jan Raas and Gerrie Knetemann were all members of the team, and their victories included World Championships (Knetemann in 1978 and Raas in 1979) and the 1980 Tour de France (Zoetemelk).
With its rider roster and co-sponsors yet to be announced, Team Raleigh has nevertheless already appointed a team manager, Chris Truett. The current director of Team Kinesis UK, Truett is looking forward to the new project.
"I am excited and honoured to be the new team manager for Raleigh," he said. "We have some exciting times ahead and I will be looking to make Raleigh the best team in the UK, one that everyone will be talking about."
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