Fleeman commits long-term to Raleigh, Tour de France participation is a goal
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Fleeman commits long-term to Raleigh, Tour de France participation is a goal

by VeloNation Press at 10:33 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

British hill-climb champion Dan Fleeman has expressed satisfaction with his new contract with the Raleigh team, and said that it is something he sees as a long-term commitment for him. This week it was confirmed that the 27 year old will be racing with the team in 2010.

“I want to stay with the team as it grows,” he told VeloNation. “My aim is certainly not to only stay one year, then jump to a ProTour team. I have pledged long-term commitment to this team.”

Fleeman competed for the An Post Sean Kelly team in 2008 and, thanks to performances such overall victory in the Tour des Pyrénées, seventh in the Tour of Britain, tenth in the Vuelta a Extremadura and thirteenth in the Tour of Ireland, he secured a one-year deal with the Cervélo Test Team.

He rode well at the start of the season but crashed at the end of May and broke the scaphoid bone in his wrist. That sidelined him from racing and although he returned to competition before the end of the season, Cervélo opted not to extend his contract.

Raleigh has now stepped in. While the set-up will be a relatively small one in 2010, it plans to compete in key British events and target participation in the Tour of Ireland. Longer term, it intends to grow season by season and line out in the Tour de France within five years.

Fleeman says that being part of an evolving national project is motivating for him. “I am excited to be joining the team and working with such an iconic British brand such as Raleigh, which has so much history in the sport. I really want to help them develop and grow back to where they once was at the top.”

As he suggests, the squad was at the summit of world cycling for many years. Iconic riders such as 1980 Tour winner Joop Zoetemelk, Hennie Keiper, Jan Raas, Gerrie Knetemann, Hennie Kuiper, Urs Freuler, Henk Lubberding and Johan van der Velde were all past of the Netherlands-based TI Raleigh squad between 1974 and 1983.

The Peter Post-run team was a major force in European races. It won major events including that 1980 Tour, multiple Tour stages, Classics and the world road race championship.

After the team split, the brand’s association with the sport persisted and it backed Laurent Fignon’s Systeme U team in 1989, when the Frenchman won the Giro d’Italia and finished second to Greg LeMond in the Tour de France.

It’s going to take time – and additional sponsorship – to build back up to a top level again. A good debut season is important, and Fleeman listed the team’s goals for 2010, as well as his own.

“The programme will of course include all the races that are shown on TV, therefore the Premier Calendar and the Tour Series criteriums are important,” he said.

“We also hope to get selected for the Tours of Britain and Ireland. I have had success in both of these before. We are also talking to organisers around Europe and the world, so that we can do as many stage races as possible.

“Personally, I will be targeting certain Premier Calender races and aiming to win a European stage race and targeting the Tour of Britain.”

The success of the Cervélo Test Team has motivated bike manufacturers to become more involved in the running of teams. Specialized and BMC have both stepped up their financial commitments for next season, and will have some of the world’s biggest riders racing their products.

Raleigh, which historically is a more famous name than any of those, is hoping that in time it too can join them at the top of the sport.

 

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