Volksbank hires two, extends two

Austrian team Volksbank has announced two new signings and two contract extensions. Josef Benetsender and Andreas Matzbacher have both extended for a year, and youngsters Christoph Sokoll and Alexander Egger will join the team with two-year contracts.

Benetsender, 24, turned pro with the Professional Continental team in 2006. "He had a great year in 2007 and showed a lot of improvement," said team manager Thomas Kofler. "In the coming season, it is time for him to get out of the helper role, move up and take more responsibility." Matzbacher, 25, started out with Saeco in 2004, riding for Lampre in 2005 before joining Volksbank in 2006. "The past season didn't bring him the expected success; he put too much pressure on himself, because he knows he can do better," Kofler noted.

Sokoll, 21, won the U23 cup ranking in Austria this season. "Very experienced, despite his youth," according to Kofler. "We will introduce him carefully. Christoph should get to know it all first and test his possibilities." Egger, 20, had an outstanding year as a junior in 2005, winning gold in the national time trial and pair time trial championships, as well as silver on the road. Kofler called him "one of the best young riders in Austria. Strong willed, professional and infected by cycling. With this attitude, the way to the top should be open to him."

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