Qatar and Oman selections a big boost for An Post Sean Kelly team
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Qatar and Oman selections a big boost for An Post Sean Kelly team

by Shane Stokes at 3:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Qatar
 
Irish-sponsored, Belgian-registered squad could replace Pegasus Sports

An Post Sean KellyAs a further sign that the team is building its reputation amongst the big race organisers, the An Post Grant Thornton M. Donnelly Sean Kelly team has been given a call-up to the Tours of Qatar and Oman.

It is possible that the squad is replacing the Pegasus Sports team, which had initially hoped to get its season underway in the Santos Tour Down Under and then the two Gulf races.

The future of that team is uncertain after it was refused a Pro Continental licence by the UCI. Whilst the team management want to try to keep as many of the riders as is possible, yesterday’s statement by the governing body that the team failed to comply with financial requirements will have created considerable unease.

Race organisers ASO released the lineup of the Tour of Oman earlier this month, listing ProTour teams Astana, BMC Racing Team, Garmin-Cervélo, Lampre-ISD, Liquigas-Cannondale, Quick Step Cycling Team, Rabobank, Sky Pro Cycling Team, HTC – Highroad and the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project, as well as the Pro Continental teams Cofidis, Farnese Neri Cycling Team, FDJ, Geox-TMC and Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator. Pegasus Sports was also listed.

Riders such as Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky), Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Daniele Bennati (Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project), Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) are thought likely to take part.

The An Post Sean Kelly team will be the sole Continental team in the events. “We are delighted to have received an invitation to take part in the two stage races,” said team manager Kurt Bogaerts. “It’s a big honour. We had an excellent season in 2010, so it’s good to see our strong performance acknowledged in this way.”

The Tour of Qatar takes place from the 6th to the 11th of February, while the second edition of the six-stage Tour of Oman will run from the 15th to the 20th.

The latter begins with a 158km stage on the coast near the capital Muscat, and concludes six stages later with a 157km stage from Qurayyat to the Mattrah Seafront.

Omega Pharma Lotto had hoped to do both but was not selected due to a limitation on the number of ProTeams which can take part in 2.1-ranked events.

The An Post Sean Kelly team recently had a training camp in Calpe. It will return there prior to the start of the season, working hard between January 8th to 20th to build form.

The full lineup is yet to be confirmed. Irish riders Connor McConvey and David O’Loughlin recently indicated that they would not be continuing, with O’Loughlin wanting to spend more time at home and a burnt-out McConvey wanting to take some time away from cycling.

Belgian veteran Niko Eeckhout is returning for what could be his final season, and is likely to be one of the team’s strongest riders in Oman and Qatar.

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