The cycling team which bears the name of Irish cycling legend Seán Kelly has outlined an ambitious list of targets for the coming season and revealed that they are upping a gear in a bid to land success.
At a press conference in Brussels this afternoon, the An Post-sponsored Seán Kelly Cycling team unveiled an 18-man team, including ten new high-profile signings.
The 2010 An Post Sean Kelly Team includes six Irish cyclists, with 2009 riders Páidi O’Brien from Cork, Meath man Mark Cassidy, David O’Loughlin from Mayo, and Donegal's Ronan McLaughlin all re-signed along with notable new addition, Belfast man Connor McConvey, who has made the switch from International Mountain Biking to International Road Racing.
“I’m really looking forward to pushing on this year with the An Post team” O’Brien said.
“The training camp in Calpe went particularly well and I get the feeling that this is the best shape the team has ever been in.”
O’Brien’s statement can be backed up by the team’s blistering start to the season which included last Sunday’s stage win for Belgian rider Niko Eeckhout, who has been resigned for 2010, and a third place overall finish for fellow Belgian and new signing Pieter Ghyllebert at the Tour Etoile de Bessèges in South France.
Ghyllabert is one of eight new Belgian riders to join the team in 2010, including Maxim Debusschere, Stijn Minne, Kim Borry, Gil Suray, Bjorn Brems, Pascal Hossay, and Brice Scholten. They join existing team members Eeckhout, Kenny Lisabeth and Benny De Shrooder to make up a strong Belgian contingent. Liverpudlian Mark McNally, a former Gold medallist at the European Junior European Track Championships, completes the line up having joined from UK professional outfit Halfords-Bikehut.
The team completed a two-week training camp in Calpe in Southern Spain last month, and their 2010 campaign will commenced at the end of January with a positive showing at GP Marseillaise in France, followed by the excellent results at the Tour Etoile de Bessèges last week.
The team will be back in action on February 17 at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal.
The An Post squad will return to Ireland for the nation's top races, the Rás, Tour of Ireland and national championships.
“Our schedule for 2010 is now complete and we will be returning to Ireland for the FBD Rás on the 23rd May,” said team director Seán Kelly.
“It is an event I particularly look forward to as we always want to do well on home turf. Fortunately we have done, winning it in 2008 and last year with Niko winning the points jersey, and David O’Loughlin the King of the Mountains."
2010 An Post Sean Kelly Team
Paidi O'Brien (IRL)
Mark Cassidy (IRL)
Ronan McLaughlin (IRL)
David O’Loughlin (IRL)
Matt Brammeier (IRL)
Connor McConvey (NIRL)
Mark McNally (UK)
Benny De Schrooder (BEL)
Kenny Lisabeth (BEL)
Niko Eeckhout (BEL)
Maxim Debusschere (BEL)
Stijn Minne (BEL)
Kim Borry (BEL)
Gil Suray (BEL)
Bjorn Brems (BEL)
Pascal Hossay (BEL)
Brice Sholten (BEL)
Pieter Ghyllabert (BEL)