Vacansoleil and Luxembourg pleased with new ProTeam licences

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Vacansoleil and Luxembourg pleased with new ProTeam licences
At the beginning of November, when the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) released the full list of teams ranked according to their 2011 line-ups, the biggest surprises were Dutch Pro Continental team Vacansoleil, ranked 12th
overall, and new Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project, which was at the very top of the list. The high ranking earned both teams a spot at the highest level of cycling for the first time.
“In 2009 we were good, in 2010 we were better and in 2011 the team has an enormous potential in many areas,” said Daan Luijkx, manager of Vacansoleil.
“Our always-eager group will show in the Tour Down Under what we are capable of at this level. After the Spring Classics, we will then take stock of where we are.”
Vacansoleil, founded in 2008, was awarded a three-year ProTeam licence after two years of hard work. The team rankings were based on the results of each team’s top 15 riders for 2011 from the last two seasons.
"From day one we have had a very close group, and the hard work of the staff, riders and sponsors have made this step possible,” said Luijkx.
The Luxembourg team, which was awarded a four-year licence, is a more impressive example. Brian Nygaard built the team from scratch with the help of Kim Andersen and the Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank. Nygaard explained that the feat of becoming the highest-ranked
team without ever competing in a race was just a result of doing his homework.
“It’s what we set out to do,” he said to Cyclingnews. “We’re happy and proud of the work that we’ve put into it we always felt it was our duty to present a project that was strong enough to get a licence.”
The team has primarily been built to put Andy Schleck on the top podium spot at the Tour de France, but has signed on a long list of major race winners including Jens Voigt, Stuart O’Grady, Linus Gerdemann, Fabian Wegmann and Jakob Fuglsang. The details
of the team have been kept quiet and are expected to remain that way until the team’s official presentation in January.
“Other things will be announced in due course. I won’t give a date right now but things are where they need to be. I can say that we’ve got the licence because of what we’ve presented,” said Nygaard. "We’re going to announce the final line up very shortly."
The announcement of the 18 ProTeams for the 2011 season included a third new entry into the highest level of cycling, the BMC Racing Team. BMC Racing is the home of former World Champion Cadel Evans and is not a surprising new entry to the ProTeam list.
Founded in 2008, the team received wild-card invitations into two Grand Tours last year and finished in the top-10 of the UCI World Rankings.
"I'm very happy because we have had a vision to always be one of the top teams and this confirms it," said team owner Andy Rihs. "It also reflects well on what we have accomplished to date and it fits perfectly together with our program as a race team and
with BMC bicycles as the title sponsor."
The licences of Cofidis and FDJ were not renewed for 2011, leaving AG2R as the only French team at the top level in 2011. Another surprise absentee is Geox, which is home to 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre and three-time Grand Tour winner Denis
Menchov. Sastre is the only Tour de France winner since Miguel Indurain, who won five times from 1991 to 1995, to have never been implicated in a doping controversy.



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