Discovery bring first Chinese rider into ProTour, Bouygues significantly increase their foreign cont
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Discovery Channel have added to their 2007 roster with Chinese rider Fuyu Li, giving them a roster drawn from 12 countries. Li will be the first Chinese rider to race at ProTour level and team manager Johan Bruyneel is confident that he will be successful. “Fuyu has proven that he is a strong rider, has had some impressive results and we are excited to have him as a member of our team. He will certainly need some time to get used to the speed and style of racing but I will design a programme that allows him to be successful. I am sure he will adapt quickly,” stated Bruyneel.
Li has had a successful 2006 campaign for his current Marco Polo Cycling Team, a China-based continental team that races both in Asia and Europe. He won the GP Westfalen in Germany, and the overall at the Tour of Thailand, the first time a Chinese rider ever won the overall at an international pro race. He also took third place in both his national road time trial events. “I am so very happy that Johan has selected me to be a part of the Discovery Channel team,” said Li. “This is a dream come true for me and I am excited to be the first Chinese rider to race at this elite level. I can only hope that this will increase the awareness for the sport and also cycling participation in China.”
– Bouygues Telecom have significantly expanded out their number of foreign riders by adding Phonak’s Johann Tschopp and Aurlien Clerc, and Agr’s Erki Putsep to their roster. They have also taken on Agritubel’s Nicolas Crosbie. Walter Bnteau, Sbastien Chavanel, Maryan Hary, Christophe Kern and Anthony Ravard are all leaving the team.
– procycling columnist Frank Hoj, who was close to agreeing a deal with new ProTour team Unibet.com, has instead opted to take up an offer from Cofidis for the next two seasons. The 33-year-old Dane has been signed to assist another of the French team’s signings, Belgian Nick Nuyens, in his Classics campaign.
– Gilberto Simoni, who was riding some end-of-season mountain bike events for a bit of fun, was crowned Italy’s MTB marathon champion this weekend.
– The calendar of next season’s ProTour and continental events has been announced. Full details of the continental events can be found on the UCI’s website (www.uci.ch), but the ProTour dates are as follows:
March 11-18: Paris-Nice
March 14-20: Tirreno-Adriatico
March 24: Milan-San Remo
April 8: Tour of Flanders
April 9-14: Tour of the Basque Country
April 11: Gent-Wevelgem
April 15: Paris-Roubaix
April 22: Amstel Gold Race
April 25: Flche Wallonne
April 29: Lige-Bastogne-Lige
May 1-6: Tour of Romandy (to be confirmed)
May 12-June 3: Giro d’Italia
May 21-27: Tour of Catalonia
June 10-17: Dauphin Libr
June 16-24: Tour of Switzerland
June 24: Eindhoven team time trial
July 7-29: Tour de France
August 4: San Sebastian Classic
August 8-16: Tour of Germany
August 19: Wattenfalls Cyclassics Hamburg
August 22-29: ENECO Tour
September 1-23: Vuelta a Espa¤a
September 2: GP Ouest-France Plouay
September 10-16: Tour of Poland