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"For us, the main objective is to finish in the top 5 of the professional continental teams so that in 2015 when professional cycling is reorganized, we will enter the second division of eight teams - just below the 16 WorldTour teams...

Photo: Vacansoleil-DCM






23.11.2013 @ 12:39 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Under the new name of Wanty-Groupe Gobert, the team which is today known as, will take a major step up in 2014. Having recruited riders like Bjorn Leukemans and Kevin Seeldraeyers, the team hopes to be one of the 5 best pro continental teams as they hope to be included in the new second division when the professional cycling world is reorganized in 2015.


While most teams either fold or have been forced to downscale their activities, the team is one of a select few squads that will actually step up their game in 2014. Team manager Jean-Francois Bourlart has joined forces with Vacansoleil sports director Hilaire van der Schueren and made several key signings that should see the team be a force to be reckoned with in most races.


Bjorn Leukemans will make sure that the team has a top contender in all the major classics while Kevin Seeldraeyers will give them options in the stage races. Established WorldTour riders Michel Kreder, Wesley Kreder, Frederique Robert, Mirko Selvaggi and Frederik Veuchelen will add further strength to the team that will only keep 8 of the current Accent riders on their 2014 roster.


The team will maintain its professional continental status in 2014 and so relies on wild card invitations for the biggest events. In 2015, the professional cycling world will be reorganized with the likely creation of a first and a second division consisting of 16 and 8 teams respectively, and Wanty manager Bourlart hopes that his team will be strong enough to make it into the second division in its first attempt.


"For us, the main objective is to finish in the top 5 of the professional continental teams so that in 2015 when professional cycling is reorganized, we will enter the second division of eight teams - just below the 16 WorldTour teams in the first division," he told Le Quotidien. "That is our goal. That is why we have strengthened our team considerably."


"It is true that we were able to recruit several riders when Vacansoleil folded but the signing of their sports director Hilaire van der Schueren will be especially important. With his knowledge and personality, he will brings a lot to our team. We will be stronger in all areas. This is positive. We are very ambitious."


Most attention has been attracted by Leukemans and Seeldraeyers but Bourlart has big expectations for another former WorldTour rider as well.


"Take for example the case of Dutchman Michel Kreder who has spent four year at the Garmin team," he said. "He won great races like stages in the Tour Med and another one this year at the Four Days of Dunkirk. He felt frustrated not always to have his own chance."


As a professional continental team, Wanty still doesn't know which races it will do. However, the team hopes to earn an invitation to the Paris-Nice to get things off to a good start.


Yes, we are one of the teams that hope to receive an invitation," Bourlart said. "This is also the reason why we have signed riders like Kevin Seeldraeyers who is a stage race specialist."


One of the riders that will remain onboard from the Accent team is young Luxembourgish sprinter Jempy Drucker. After a bad start to the season, the 27-year-old ended his season on a high with several strong performances and capped things off with a 5th place in the Tour de l'Eurometropole.


Bourlart has big expectations for Drucker in 2014.


"We want him to focus on the classics where he will ride alongside Bjorn Leukemans," he said. "He can be a co-leader. Therefore we will design a programme of stage races in February and March that will allow him to gain strength. We will follow a programme like last year and will return to competition in the Marseillaise followed by the Etoile de Bessgese, Volta ao Algarve, Ruta Del Sol, Tour du Haut-Var etc."


The team has its first gathering in Charleroi these days and will have its first training camp in Benidorm in the middle of January.



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