Liberty delighted with team

Liberty International chairman Tom Ramey reflects on the performance of the Liberty Seguros team and

Liberty International chairman Tom Ramey reflects on the performance of the Liberty Seguros team and

For the second consecutive year, Tom Ramey, chairman of Liberty International, paid a visit to the Liberty Seguros team his company sponsors the day before the San Sebastian Classic and took the opportunity to train alongside some of the team's riders. Ramey spent two hours riding with the team alongside Luis Bonell, the general manager of Liberty Seguros Spain and later expressed his happiness with the way Liberty's link with Manolo Saiz's squad is working out.

"After last year, when there was a certain disillusionment because ONCE had finished and Liberty arrived, this year we had some aims to fulfil and we achieved them," said Ramey of the season so far. "We are very, very happy [with the team]. We chose cycling because we wanted to promote our name in Spain after purchasing three companies in the country. The challenge was to integrate these three companies into one single image.

"Secondly, we wanted to transmit the image of this new company to the Spanish public. It was then that I realised the importance of cycling in Spain as in many other European and South American countries, such as Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Brazil. and also Australia and New Zealand. With the team we have achieved many added benefits in these countries, not just in Spain. And finally, in this case we have not suffered what are known as 'unanticipated consequences', that is, no unexpected problems have emerged."

Ramey revealed that the link with the team had raised the recognition of Liberty's name in Spain 15% to more than 50%, and that there has also been a noticeable effect in other countries. The company's staff have also responded to the link, with Ramey stating he believed morale had been raised as a result of the team's successes on the road.

Ramey expects the team to progress even further following the signings of a Kazakh trio headed by Alexandre Vinokourov. "I see a really positive progress. We have a good mixture of veterans and young riders who are gaining experience every year. The first season was about the organisation in relation to the new sponsor; in the second some very special victories in the Giro and the Tour and I just hope that this progress continues next year. I am convinced that in 2006 we will be talking about even greater success, although we should never forget that this is sport and, apart from a great amount of work, a bit of luck is also needed," said Ramey, who is hoping the team can repeat last year's Vuelta a Espa¤a success.

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