Vos' new team WM3 Pro Cycling hires controversial Blijlevens as director in 2017
'Hopefully we can again benefit from Jeroen's expertise' says Vos
Jeroen Blijlevens will return to professional cycling as the new director of Marianne Vos' team WM3 Pro Cycling in 2017, the team announced Tuesday.
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The former Dutch racer directed at both the women's Rabobank and men's Belkin teams before being pushed out of cycling three years ago after confessing to using EPO during his racing career in the late 1990s.
The WM3 Pro Cycling team welcomed him to their squad as a director in a formal announcement on Twitter.
Blijlevens' career highlights as a sprinter included stage wins at the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and Giro d'Italia, where he briefly wore the pink leader's jersey. He raced for teams TVM, Team Polti, Lotto and Domo-Farm Frites and BanGiroLoterjui before retiring in 2004.
He spent several years managing Vos' former team Nederland Bloeit, that took on Rabobank as a title sponsor in 2012.
In 2013, he returned to the men's side of the sport as director for team Belkin. However, he was later sacked after being named in a French Senate report as one of many cyclist who tested positive for banned substances during the re-testing of samples from the 1998 Tour de France. He later confessed to using the banned blood-booster EPO.
He had signed a declaration before joining Belkin stating that he never doped during his career. He also lied during the French Senate investigation, later saying that he did so in order to keep his job. That meant he was not allowed to work with any of the Dutch teams in the peloton at the time.
Despite his checkered past, Vos told Nos.nl that she has worked with Blijlevens before and that she is pleased that her team has brought him into the fold for the upcoming season.
"We have, for several years, worked very fine and professional," Vos said. "Thanks to him, I have previously gotten great victories, which laid an important foundation for the successes we've had. Hopefully we continue this at WM3 Pro Cycling and again benefit from Jeroen's expertise."
Rabobank is set to end its sponsorship of Vos' women's team Rabo-Liv at the end of 2016. However, the team will be revamped in 2017 and recently announced a five-year deal with a new title sponsor, Dutch company WM3 Energie.
Vos will lead the roster that also includes returning riders Kasia Niewiadoma, Anouska Kostar, Yara Kastelijn, Jeanne Korevaar and Moniek Tenniglo. New recuits include Valentina Scandolara, Rotem Gafinovitz and Anna Plichta, both from BTC City Ljubljana, along with Lauren Kitchen (Hitec Products) and Riejanne Markus (Team Liv Plantur).
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.