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Last year, the Telenet-Fidea team owned the cyclocross scene, with Zdenek Stybar leading the charge and taking the World Championships. Can they repeat their success this year? The line-up looks impressive, and with Bart Wellens back in good health, this may just be the team to beat. Cyclocross Magazine correspondent Bart Hazen was on site for the team presentation. Check out the gallery after the jump.
by Bart Hazen
The European cyclocross season will start with the Steenbergcross in Erpe-Mere this Sunday. Today the Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team, the biggest cyclocross team (Budget: 1,900,000 euro/ $2.5million US) in the world, has been presented at the new headquarters of bike supplier Ridley. The core of manager Hans van Kasteren’s and sports-director Danny de Bie’s team remained the same with world champion, World Cup winner, Superprestige winner, and Czech national champ Zdenek Stybar and former world champion Bart Wellens at the helm.
Next to these two main riders, the team can count on Zolder World Cup winner Kevin Pauwels and Belgian rising star Tom Meeusen. Next to that, the team also has three more national champions with Robert Gavenda (Slovakia), Corné van Kessel (The Netherlands) and new signing Arnaud Grand (Switzerland). The team will be completed by Petr Dlask, Rob Peeters, Wouter van Mechelen, Vincent Baestaens, Karel Hnik and another new signing, Micki van Empel.
“Last year we took 104 podium spots with the World title of Zdenek Stybar in Tabor as the ultimate. It will be difficult to do as well as last season, but we will try to match that and try to do even better. I love challenges,” said manager Hans van Kasteren.
Bart Wellens is eager to do well after a difficult 2009-2010 season due to fighting the CMV-Virus (cytomegalovirus). The 32 year-old wants to show that he’s still able to challenge the best three (Stybar, Nys and Albert) every week. “Because I suffered with the cytomegalovirus, I couldn’t compete for half a season. After the season opener in Erpe-Mere, I was already sidelined. At the end of the season with my wins in Eeklo and Vorselaar, I showed that I still have it. I had a really good summer and I improved in every stage race on the road I competed in. I hope to win at least one big ’cross race this winter and to challenge the best three every week.”
Zdenek Stybar will start his 2010-2011 ’cross season in Strybro in his home country the Czech-Republic. The race is in his hometown and is organized by his father. “I’ll start my fifth season with the Telenet-Fidea team. At the end of the season my contract will expire, and I haven’t made any decisions yet about my future, whether I will stay with the team or not. I am not afraid to ride all season long in the rainbow jersey. Problems with my seat disturbed my summer program a little bit. I had an operation and couldn’t ride on my bike for ten days. Because of this, I had to miss the Tour of Belgium in May. But thanks to the training camp at altitude in Sankt-Moritz and some stage races (Stybar won the prologue in the Tour of Slovakia), my shape is now very good. I’m ready to start the season.”
The Telenet-Fidea team for 2010-2011:
Bart Wellens (Elite)
Zdenek Stybar (Elite)
Tom Meeusen (Elite)
Kevin Pauwels (Elite)
Robert Gavenda (Elite)
Petr Dlask (Elite)
Rob Peeters (Elite)
Wouter Van Mechelen (Elite, only road)
Vincent Baestaens (U23)
Corne Van Kessel (U23)
Micki Van Empel (U23)
Arnaud Grand (U23)
Karel Hnik (U23)