Jonny Bellis to make pro comeback with Team Saxo Bank at Tour of Britain
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jonny Bellis to make pro comeback with Team Saxo Bank at Tour of Britain

by Conal Andrews at 8:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Britain
Race finishes the day before one-year anniversary of near fatal crash

Jonny BellisHaving resumed racing at the Isle of Man championships in June, Jonny Bellis will take the next step in his comeback from a serious head injury when he takes part in the Tour of Britain next month. The 21 year old will be part of a five man Team Saxo Bank lineup for the 2.1-ranked race, which will begin in Rochdale on September 11th and concludes in London on September 18th.

The end-date is one day before the anniversary of a late-night scooter accident in Italy last year, and so riding the Tour of Britain will be an emotional and highly-symbolic achievement for the rider.

The team’s provisional lineup will see him compete alongside team-mates Sebastian Haedo, double Four Days of Dunkirk stage winner Alex Rasmussen, experienced Danish rider Frank Hoj, Polish Time-Trial Champion Jaroslav Marycz and Jonas Aaen Jorgensen.

Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett is looking forward to seeing the team, and Bellis, competing in the race.

“I’m delighted to welcome Team Saxo Bank back to the Tour, as they have been one of our staunchest supporters, and have enjoyed great success in the event,” he stated. “It is fantastic to have the world’s number two ranked team riding The Tour, a team who I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more of next year thanks to their recent signing of Tour de France champion Alberto Contador.

“I am also pleased to see Jonathan returning to the Tour this year, and I, and all of the organising team, wish him all the best for the race. I’m sure he will see a lot of support from the British public during the Tour.”

Bellis showed his class at an early age, taking a gold medal for team pursuit in the European track championships in 2006. One year later he won the Under 23 points and scratch races at the same event, but it was his bronze medal in a big sprint at the Under 23 world road race championships which really grabbed the attention.

He began a trial with the Team Saxo Bank in the summer of 2008 and further underlined his ability with placings of sixth and seventh on stages of the Tour of Britain. It was a very encouraging result for a 20 year old, and showed that he could mix it with older, more experienced riders.

Since he resumed training this year, Bellis has been working with former world pursuit champion and Tour de France stage winner Bradley McGee. He will be looking forward to his chance to once again race professionally, and the fact that he can do so in Britain will be an additional morale boost.

Team Saxo Bank owner Bjarne Riis said last April that he wanted to see the young rider take his place once again on the team.

“As things stand right now, the plan is that he will make his comeback in the national championships in late June,” he said then. “After that, he will be ready to again slip back into being part of the team, in line with the plans that we have started to organise [for him].”

The Tour of Britain has also confirmed that top British domestic outfits Sigma Sport – Specialized and Team Raleigh will figure among the 17 teams taking part in this year’s race.

The Sigma Sport squad will be led by 2009 FBD Rás champion Simon Richardson, with the previous year’s champion Stephen Gallagher of Ireland, the Dutchman Wouter Sybrandy and British trio Tom Murray, Kit Gilham and Matt Stephens completing the lineup.

Former Cervélo Test Team rider Dan Fleeman will head the Team Raleigh lineup, morale boosted after netting seventh overall at the Tour des Pyrenees at the weekend. Also kitting out in the iconic jersey will be Welsh Champion Dale Appleby, Tom Barras, Richard Handley, Liam Holohan and Daniel Shand.

Today’s additions join five other squads who were previously confirmed for Britain’s top cycling event. They are the An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly Cycling Team, Endura Racing, Motorpoint – Marshalls Pasta and Rapha – Condor – Sharp.

It is expected that more big-name squads will be announced closer to the event. However, whichever teams are turning up, the feel-good factor that Saxo Bank and Jonny Bellis will bring is going to stand out clearly. The team stood by the rider when there were serious questions if he would ever race again, and that loyalty deserves every headline and success that comes its way.


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