Posted by Editor on 09/21/06
Discovery Channel Announces Roster Changes
Press Release from Team Discovery:
As the 2006 Pro Tour draws to a close next month, the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team (DCPCT) continues to prepare for 2007 with the signing of two new riders. Team management announced that Uros Murn and Gianni Meersman will join Levi Leipheimer, Sergio Paulinho, and Tomas Vaitkus as newcomers to the 2007 squad. The signing comes three days after the completion of the season's last Grand Tour (Vuelta a Espana), where the Team had great success: Egoi Martinez - Stage #11 win, Tom Danielson - Stage #17 win, Janez Brajkovic - 2nd place stage finish and Leaders Jersey (Stages 8 & 9), and the Overall Team Classification Win.
Slovenia's Uros Murn, currently riding for Phonak, has had a successful season, highlighted by a recent 3rd place Stage 8 finish at the Vuelta a Espana. In 2005, Murn had a stage win at Semana Catalana and a 3rd place stage finish at the Tour of Poland. Murn was also the 2004 Slovenian National Road Champion. Team Sports Director Johan Bruyneel is very pleased with his new rider saying, "Anytime you get a rider with his experience you have to be happy. Judging by his performance at the Vuelta, I see a bright future for him with the Discovery Team."
Discovery's other addition, Gianni Meersman, a 21 year-old Belgian, will make his debut on the Pro Tour in 2007. Currently riding for Beveren 2000 (Belgian domestic team), Meersman has had much success on the domestic level, including 8 victories in 2006 and 6 in 2005. Johan Bruyneel and Assistant Director Dirk Demol have both shown a great eye for capturing young talent, exemplified by Brajkovic's impressive rookie season on the Pro Tour. "Gianni will definitely need time to develop as a rider but we believe he has what it takes to be successful on the Pro Tour level. We look forward to helping him develop as a rider," stated Bruyneel.
Team management also announces the departures of eleven riders from the 2006 squad: Jose Azevedo, Michael Barry, Manuel "Triki" Beltran, Viatcheslav "Eki" Ekimov, Roger Hammond, Leif Hoste, Benoit Joachim, Gennady Mikhaylov, Paolo Savoldelli, Jurgen Van Den Broeck, and Max Van Heeswijk. On the departure of the eleven riders Johan Bruyneel commented, "After the retirement of Lance in 2005 it was natural for our team to begin making changes. The Team was built around Lance for seven years and as we move out of the Lance era we are now looking at new objectives in addition to the Tour de France. With those new objectives it is natural that we will make changes and that some riders will also look to make a change. I am very confident that we will continue to win big races in 2007 with our new roster."
Eki, who announced his retirement during the Tour de France, will stay on with the Discovery Channel Team in his new capacity as Assistant Sports Director. In the coming weeks and months, Team management is expected to sign additional riders to the 2007 squad.
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