The Marco Polo Cycling Team will be racing all over the world again in 2010. Following the decision of main sponsor Trek Bikes to step down, it seemed fielding a team in 2010 would be a tough call for the Marco Polo Cycling management, but with new support coming in from Museeuw Bikes and FFWD wheels, the team will continue to be a platform for the support and development of young riders from non-traditional cycling countries.
Leon van Bon road captain of the Marco Polo Cycling Team. (Photo: Francis Cerny)
The main sponsor position of the Chinese-registered team is still to be filled and available. Nonetheless, the team will race the biggest races in Asia (including Langkawi, QinghaiLake and Hainan) and spend a couple of months competing in Europe. The first race of the team will be the Mumbai Cyclothon in India, with the Tour de Langkawi following shortly after that.The team composition is compact, with a roster of just nine riders allowing a more individually-focused approach to coaching the young squad.Fast finishers Haidar Anuawar, Brad Hall and Leon van Bon will go for the wins in the flat races, whilst the three Chinese riders, plus Lovelock of Australia and Bounida of The Netherlands will be out to prove their climbing abilities. Seasoned campaigners Leon van Bon, Brad Hall and Loh Sea Keong (only 23 years old, but starting his 5th year with the team!), will be bringing a lot of experience in the Asian and European racing scene to the team.The team will race the carbon-flax innovative bikes of Museeuw Bikes. Johan Museeuw: “The Marco Polo Cycling Team is a very innovative cycling team; it is a unique concept in our traditional cycling world. Marco Polo Cycling has managed to organize this team for almost ten years with a lot of passion. This has been possible thanks to a strong belief in their mission coupled with high-quality management and operations. I think this is a perfect fit with our company.
We create innovative bikes that have a unique composition and built to the highest standards. The flax fibres of which our bikes are composed, give the best riding experience I have ever had. I am sure all the riders on the Marco Polo Team will agree with that very soon! I will try to visit the team when I can and contribute to the development of these highly motivated and talented riders.” Team manager Gudo Kramer said: “I am glad we can continue the team for now, thanks to the fantastic support of our many loyal sponsors and of course also the new companies that have joined us. The fantastic Museeuw bikes will be a great weapon for our guys in the battles they fight in 2010 and years to come. It is hard for talented riders from countries such as China or Malaysia to make the step to the big pro teams, even if they do have the talent, skills and motivation. Hopefully, our team will help the guys we have on board gain the experience they need and teach them how to become professional riders. Our staff, together with the teams' experienced riders, and I want to mention Leon van Bon specifically, will be instrumental in achieving our aims and I thank them for their hard work and loyalty. I am sure we will find even more support for our program soon, so we can make further progress and expansion to our program!”
The team for 2010:Liu Yilin, China (24)Wang Meiyin, China (20)Fu Xing, China (21)LohSeaKeong, Malaysia (23)Haidar Anuawar, Malaysia (23)Jonathan Lovelock, Australia (20)Khalid Bounida, The Netherlands (18)Brad Hall, Australia (31)Leon van Bon, The Netherlands (37)
The 2009 season brought the Trek - Marco Polo Cycling Team success with victories in Thailand and Korea, national titles by Liu Yilin road Champion of China, Fuyu Li time trial Champion of China and Jaco Venter time trial Champion of South Africa. Jaco Venter also had a strong appearance at the Tour de l’Avenir and several other international stage races.Fuyu Li recently won his second golden medal in the China Games, the most important sports event in China after the Olympic Games.Due to his successes and the experience he built up with Marco Polo Cycling, Fuyu Li transferred to the Radioshack team of Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong. Other riders that raced with Marco Polo Cycling in the past, include Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank), Thomas Rabou (Rabobank – Team Type 1) and former track World Champion Wong Kam Po.