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Stronger Vacansoleil ready for second year in WorldTour

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Vacansoliel riders show off their new Bianchi rides

Vacansoliel riders show off their new Bianchi rides (Image credit: NMG Productions)
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Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM)

Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Kenny Van Hummel

Kenny Van Hummel (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Johnny Hoogerland

Johnny Hoogerland (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Johnny Hoogerland

Johnny Hoogerland (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Jean Paul Van Poppel

Jean Paul Van Poppel (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Hilaire Van Der Schueren

Hilaire Van Der Schueren (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Gustav Erik Larsson

Gustav Erik Larsson (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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The riders from the north of Holland: Lindeman, Keizer and Westra

The riders from the north of Holland: Lindeman, Keizer and Westra (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Vacansoleil team manager Daan Luijkx

Vacansoleil team manager Daan Luijkx (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Bianchi returns to the WorldTour with Vacansoleil

Bianchi returns to the WorldTour with Vacansoleil (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Bert-jan Lindeman

Bert-jan Lindeman (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Wout Poels

Wout Poels (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Vacansoleil brings Bianchi back to the WorldTour in 2012

Vacansoleil brings Bianchi back to the WorldTour in 2012 (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The 2012 Vacansoleil team

The 2012 Vacansoleil team (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Dutch riders Johnny Hoogerland, Wout Poels and Rob Ruijgh

Dutch riders Johnny Hoogerland, Wout Poels and Rob Ruijgh (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Van Hummel, Boeckmans and Markus

Van Hummel, Boeckmans and Markus (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Kenny Van Hummel

Kenny Van Hummel (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Kevin Van Impe

Kevin Van Impe (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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The 2012 Vacansoleil team

The 2012 Vacansoleil team (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Tomasz Marczynski

Tomasz Marczynski (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Thomas De Gendt

Thomas De Gendt (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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The Vacansoleil team car is ready for 2012

The Vacansoleil team car is ready for 2012 (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Stijn Devolder

Stijn Devolder (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM)

Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil)

Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil) (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Romain Feillu

Romain Feillu (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Rob Ruijgh

Rob Ruijgh (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Rob Ruijgh (Vacansoleil-DCM)

Rob Ruijgh (Vacansoleil-DCM) (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM)

Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM) (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Dutch champion Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM)

Dutch champion Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM) (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Nikita Novikov

Nikita Novikov (Image credit: DCP/Bert Geerts)
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Vacansoleil's Belgians

Vacansoleil's Belgians (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Stijn Devolder

Stijn Devolder (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Matteo Carrara

Matteo Carrara (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Johnny Hoogerland gets some mic time

Johnny Hoogerland gets some mic time (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Thomas De Gendt is aiming at the Classics

Thomas De Gendt is aiming at the Classics (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Sergei Lagutin is champion of Uzbekistan

Sergei Lagutin is champion of Uzbekistan (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Romain Feillu and dual Polish champion Tomasz Marczynski

Romain Feillu and dual Polish champion Tomasz Marczynski (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Romain Feillu back with Vacansoleil in 2012

Romain Feillu back with Vacansoleil in 2012 (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Michel Cornelisse is one of the team's directeurs sportif

Michel Cornelisse is one of the team's directeurs sportif (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Directeur sportif Jean Paul van Poppel

Directeur sportif Jean Paul van Poppel (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Gustav Erik Larsson is interviewed

Gustav Erik Larsson is interviewed (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Frederik Veuchelen

Frederik Veuchelen (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Rob Ruijgh and Wout Poels

Rob Ruijgh and Wout Poels (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Rafael Valls

Rafael Valls (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Johnny Hoogerland will aim for fame via results rather than injury

Johnny Hoogerland will aim for fame via results rather than injury (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Vacansoleil-DCM's general manager Daan Luijkx

Vacansoleil-DCM's general manager Daan Luijkx (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Gustav Erik Larsson

Gustav Erik Larsson (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Hilaire Van der Schueren, directeur sportif of Vacansoleil

Hilaire Van der Schueren, directeur sportif of Vacansoleil (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The 2012 Vacansoleil team

The 2012 Vacansoleil team (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Stijn Devolder and Bjorn Leukemans are the Vacansoleil team's top men

Stijn Devolder and Bjorn Leukemans are the Vacansoleil team's top men (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Stijn Devolder in the Vacansoleil 2012 kit

Stijn Devolder in the Vacansoleil 2012 kit (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Wout Poels is back with Vacansoleil in 2012

Wout Poels is back with Vacansoleil in 2012 (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Stijn Devolder

Stijn Devolder (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Pim Ligthart is the Dutch champion

Pim Ligthart is the Dutch champion (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Stijn Devolder is ready for 2012

Stijn Devolder is ready for 2012 (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Hilaire Van der Schueren talks about the team's ambitions

Hilaire Van der Schueren talks about the team's ambitions (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Rob Ruijgh is interviewed

Rob Ruijgh is interviewed (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
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Bianchi has supplied Oltre bikes to Vacansoleil for 2012

Bianchi has supplied Oltre bikes to Vacansoleil for 2012 (Image credit: NMG Productions)
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The Dutch team is on the Italian Bianchi this year

The Dutch team is on the Italian Bianchi this year (Image credit: NMG Productions)
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The Vacansoleil riders like ther "celeste" Bianchi bikes

The Vacansoleil riders like ther "celeste" Bianchi bikes (Image credit: NMG Productions)
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Team Vacansoleil with its 2012 Bianchi bikes

Team Vacansoleil with its 2012 Bianchi bikes (Image credit: NMG Productions)

Vacansoleil-DCM is ready for its second year in the top ranks, having strengthened its core with 11 new riders. With two-year commitments from new bike sponsor Bianchi and title sponsors Vacansoleil and DCM to go along with its two-year WorldTour licence, the Dutch team is ready to take on the future.

The team presented its 2012 squad Tuesday in Maastricht, Netherlands – not at all far from this year's World Championship course, which many of the riders already have their eye on.

“We have invested in the core of the team,” general manager Daan Luijkx said. “The last few years the team showed it has a lot of riders who can get results and every year young talents break through. We will focus on developing our core and our young riders, while we stay accessible and attractive.”

The team's best known rider from last year's Tour de France is Johnny Hoogerland. He is eager to put the barbed wire episode behind him, saying that his time in the King of the Mountain's dotted jersey at that race was his season highlight.

The 28-year-old didn't have any wins last season but is determined to change that this year, with his focus fixed first of all on the Spring Classics. “My role in this team is to be around in the finale of the races. This can lead to chances for myself or teammates. For myself I look to Amstel Gold and the Worlds, which are both only a stone's throw away from here.”

Stijn Devolder's first season with the team last year didn't go at all as hoped, but, the Belgian said, “I start to know the Dutchies and I start liking it more and more. The fact that the sport directors and Daan Luijkx told me they keep confidence in me is a great motivation.”

One of the team's newcomers is Swedish time trial specialist Gustav Erik Larsson. Being with the Dutch team “gives me a great opportunity to do what I want,” he said.  “It will be a tough year, a hard year, but that's why we do it.”

Larsson also has the Olympics in his sights. After finishing second in the Beijing Olympic Games, only 33 seconds behind winner Fabian Cancellara, he said that “someday I will have to take revenge. I have already been there and checked out the parcours. It is a very nice parcours actually, a few ups and downs.”

The team's only French rider, Romain Feillu, has big dreams for the year. It starts with winning the French road championship. “It is my dream to wear the French national jersey in the Tour de France. Wearing the national jersey in the Tour is like having July 14 every day.” From there, he wants to top the national jersey with the Tour's green jersey, and also ride in the Olympic games.

Kenny Van Hummel has moved over from Skil-Shimano and is excited to make his WorldTour team debut.  “This team is a new adventure and I am excited to race the Tour Down Under,” he said. “It is exciting to be in a team which is among the 18 biggest in the world.”

The team's sport directors echoed the riders' sentiments. According to Jean-Paul van Poppel, “We race with fun and aggression and keep professionalizing the team and staff.” Michel Cornelisse said he was “proud to be part of this project. We grow every year and if I look at the team and progress of some riders, I believe we will do so again in 2012.”

And Hilaire Van Der Schueren summed up the season planning by saying, “we aim for a top ten in a grand tour, a top three in one of the monuments, and a victory in at least one WorldTour race.”

Bianchi for 2012

The team will be riding Bianchi Oltre bikes this year, a carbon monococque bike which the Italian manufacturer calls “one of the best racing machines Bianchi has ever made.” The  bike supplier was out in full force at the team presentation, with their ties in the same traditional “celeste” blue-green as the bikes.