Felt Bicycles are to sponsor an expanded international mountain bike team in 2009.
Last year, the Californian firm gave its backing to the Italian cross-country squad formerly known as Top Race Team.
This year, the Tuscany-based Felt International MTB Team are determined to make their mark at the highest level of the sport.
Joining returning 2008 pro elite members Paolo Alberati (ITA), Pierluigi Bettelli (ITA), Mario Alberto Rojas (COL), Julian Alfonso Becerra (COL) and Alessia Ghezzo (ITA) are Kashi Leuchs (NZL), Emil Lindgren (SWE), Andreas Kugler (SUI), Jurg Graf (SUI), Joel Graf (SUI), Blaza Klemencic (SLO) and former world champion Miguel Martinez (FRA).
The 2009 squad will also include elite U23 and Masters riders, including promising young Italians Juri Ragnoli and Daniele Mensi.
The pro team will concentrate on the UCI World Cup series, Racer Power Cup (formerly the Swiss Cup), the German Bundesliga Series and selected Italian events, while the development team will mainly race in Italy.
Team manager Antonio Brozzu said: "We are very happy to work with the truly passionate people of Felt Bicycles and to see our efforts appreciated after just one year together. It is our objective to continue to build on this partnership and we are excited to know our team will compete exclusively on FELT for the next four years."
Michael Muellmann, president of Felt GmbH, said: "We are very happy to support this team and highly value both their performance capability and positive image. It is a program which fits perfectly with our company and we look forward to continued success together."