Gérard Bulens (Team-Manager) and Olivano Locatelli (Directeur Sportif) have assembled a team that is a curious mixture of Belgium experience and youthful Italian and Ukranian talent that owes much to the all conquering Zoccorinese-Vellutex team.
Tom Steels and Ludo Dierckxsens should do enough to keep the Belgium sponsors and fans happy while the potential of Popovych and Bernucci (amongst others) will once again thrill the Tifosi and Italian sponsors Colnago.
Ernesto Colnago, patron of the Colnago-Landbouwkrediet team, is of no doubt of Popovych’s talent: "One day he will win the Giro and the Tour" he confidently told the Gazzetto dello Sport. Popovych has it all, great physique, strong and talented above and beyond the norm. He is a rider who could do equally well in the Great Tours and the Northern Classics.” Comparisons with Merckx? “Yes, Ballerini 2 years ago made that comparison, but I prefer to remain cautious… I have invested heavily in the Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team and make no mistake it is a team, in part, specifically built for Popovych."
Santo ANZA- One of several riders from the hugely successful Zoccorinese Vellutex team to make his debut in the pro ranks in the red and white Landbouwkrediet-Colnago colours.
Sergey AVDYEYEV - The Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team is a rare mix of former Zoccorinese Vellutex riders and the Ukraine features strongly in the line up - very solid young rider in his second season with the team - rode strongly in the 2002 Giro finishing 54th overall.
Lorenzo BERNUCCI - Third in the marvellous U23 road race in Plouay behind winner Evgeni Petrov and second-placed Yaroslav Popovych - who of course is now his team mate. 9 victories for Zoccorinese-Vellutex in 2001 and 7 victories in the 2002 (3rd in Paris Roubaix Espoirs). Third overall in the 2002 Etoile de Bessèges a race which the Landbouwkrediet team had ridden aggressively throughout.
Voldomir BILEKA - d.o.b. 06/02/1979 2nd in the espoirs Paris-Roubaix of 2001 - that says a lot about where this team is heading; great start to his pro career when he and Popovych dominated the GP Porec 1 - cat. 1.5 - 133 kms - he took the victory - Popovych was 5th.
Tony BRACKE - Tough Belgian pro who won the Tour of the Cotswolds way back in 1997 - will ride for a Captain.
Ludovic CAPELLE - Champion of Belgium in 2001 (Halle) and Vice-champion in 2002 (Maldegem), Ludovic rode for the last two years with the French team AG2R winning Stage One of the Circuit de Sarthe. Will be looking for stage victories and to help Tom Steels in the sprints.
Bert DEWAELE - d.o.b. 20/07/1975, seen above winning the Univest 2000 - courtesy Jonathan S. McElvery - a very
strong rider, almost got a great solo win in the 2002 Bruxelles- Kuurne - Bruxelles but was caught with just a few kilometres to go. 7th in the Tour de Vendée.
Ludo DIERCKXSENS - A two year contract sees one of the most popular riders with fans rejoin his former sporting director Gerard Bulens. 8 years ago, Dierckxsens began his professional career with Bulens, before joining the Lotto team. For the last three years, he has been thrilling fans with his aggressive riding style with the Lampre-Daikin team. Gerard Bulens is very content with the arrival of Dierckxsens.
"For me, it was a dream but the idea to recruit Ludo comes from Landbouwkrediet. We are aware that the sponsor must be happy with the riders too - but I am particularly glad to have Ludo in the team."
Wladimir DUMA - Probably the most interesting signing the team made - the winner of 2002 GP Industria & Commercio di Prato is, of course , Ukrainian, interesting addition to the team; formerly a Ceramica Panaria-Fiordo rider.
Ruslan GRYSHENKO - Winner of the Flèche Ardennaise 2002 Espoirs.
Erik LIEVENS - d.o.b. 04/10/1979 - Rode for Mapei - Eddy Merckx boys and the Domo-Farm Frites-Latexco espoirs turning pro in 2001 - early season injury hampered the youngster's season in 2002, 2003 is a fresh new start.
Claudio LUCHINNI - d.o.b. - 19/06/1976 - This young Italian is yet another product of Zoccorinese-Vellutex - double stage winner in the baby Giro 2001 - 2nd year pro.
Yuri METLUSHENKO - d.o.b. 04/01/1976 - Another great Ukranian prospect - after 16 victories as an espoir started his pro career with a great victory in the GP Donoratico (1.3).
Yaroslav POPOVYCH - d.o.b. 04/01/1980 “The Great” - 36 victories in 2 seasons with the Zoccorinese-Vellutex team and ranked number 1 for under U23 riders in 2001 his first season as a pro did not disappoint.
Related articles - Yaroslav Popovych 2002. Yaroslav Popovych 2003 Click here.
Yaroslav Popovych - Cycling's best climber!Click here.
S. SCAMARDELLA - d.o.b - 04/01/1979 - Another former Zoccorinese-Vellutex rider with 5 victories for the team and 6th in the Paris Tours Espoirs - between 1998 and 2001 - the Neapolitan starts his second campaign this season in the pro ranks.
Tom Steels wins the Belgian road race 2002 Maldegem, just ahead of new team mate Capelle and Vanderaerden.
Photo courtesy of the Tom Steels' site - well worth a visit at - http://www.tomsteels.homestead.com/
Tom STEELS - Three times champion of Belgium and the current champion, Tom Steels is at home in the classics and prolific winner, by his own high standards illness and injury have slowed the number of victories down in the last couple of seasons - however new team mates and better health may soon see a return to Tom's winning ways.
Marc STREEL - d.o.b 12/08/1971 - Tough experienced and great time trailer on his day (former Belgium National champion in this discipline in 1999) Second season with the team. However ran into a tractor during training and broke his arm, so his season has not started well...
Tom STREMERSCH - Another tough Belgian, bags of experience, will ride for his Captain.
Mikhail TIMOCHINE Big hitter in the coupe du monde des Espoirs, and winner of the Paris-Roubaix 2002 Espoirs, great prospect.
Related article: Click here.
Thomas VAITKUS - Another great investment in youth and a product of the formidable Zoccorinese-Vellutex team, the Belgian team realises the potential of these great athletes guided by that great Italian Club. Winner of the U23 World Men’s Individual Time Trial, Thomas also won the GP des Nations espoirs. It should be noted that Thomas Vaitkus does not have full contract but will ride as a stagiaire.CORRECTION , Alessandro Colnago has kindly informed us that:-
"Thomas Vaitkus has a full contract for the next two years, he is not a stagiaire."
Many thanks for your help Alessandro .
Related Articles - Vaitkus wins!
Kurt V. LANDEGHEM - d.o.b. 20/01/1977 - Rode for Palmans between 1997 and 1998 - picked up by the Landbouwkrediet team in 2002, best result third in the GP Erik Breukink.
W. V. SPEYBROECK - The 24 year old rider Wesley Van Speybroeck has been a professional for 2 years with the Lotto team. During his first season in 2001, he won stage 2 of the Paris-Correze and also scored in the Putte-Kappelen. In 2002 victory in the GP Rudy Dhaenens continued the young rider's progress. Van Speybroeck is a sprinter.
Johan VERSTREPEN - very experienced, the former Lampre rider will no doubt be used as a road captain at some stage in the season.
Nico WEYNANTS - d.o.b. 27/03/1974 - Second season pro.
Olivano Locatelli Directeur Sportif
To read Fabio's excellent report on the man with the Golden Touch CLICK HERE
Kurt V. LANDEGHEM
W. V. SPEYBROECK
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