Mitsubishi-Jartazi with Estonian license and great ambitions

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25.01.2008/ Tuesday Mitsubishi-Jartazi announced its 2008 roster in Lochristi (Belgium). The team is no longer a continental team but has a Pro-Continental status in the current season. The team signed Frank Vandenbroucke, Geert Verheyen, Hans Dekkers, Stefan van Dijk and other strong riders. The team will race with a Estonian license, new title sponsor Mitsubishi already had a sponship deal with the Estonian cycling federation.

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Stefan van Dijk signed with Mitsubishi - Jartazi ( Cyclingheroes)

Mitsubishi could become one of the key sponsors in professional cycling in the coming years. The Japanese corporation is the new title sponsor of the Mitsubishi Jartazi team. Mitsubishi already sponsored the Estonian cycling federation and extended their commitment by sponsoring a professional team. The team had  a continental status in 2007 and was registered under the name Jartazi.

The 2008 roster of the team has 24 riders. The riders are coming from seven different countries, most of them from Belgium.  Sports Director Jef Braeckevelt starts his 46th (!) season as a sports director with the team. Braeckevelt had to find a solution to compensate Dennis Flahaut who signed with Saunier Duval. Braeckevelt said: "Now I have to do it without our French sprinter Dennis Flahaut. To fill up the gap I signed Dutch [sprinters] Stefan van Dijk and Hans Dekkers." Cyclingheroes will publish an interview with Stefan van Dijk early next week.

The team also signed Frank Vandenbroucke. Vandenbroucke said: "My ambition for 2008 is to be competitive after rehabilitating my left knee, which is still taking up my time." Cyclingheroes will publish an interview with Vandenbroucke later today. The team also signed Vandenbroucke's former teammate Chris Peers. Peers will be a sports director with the team. Peers is confident VDB will show something. Peers said: Frank is doing alright, he had a difficult time but he will show us something."

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VDB has a "serious hunger for competition." Cyclingheroes

Sports Director Jef Braeckevelt hopes that 33 year old Vandenbroucke will do well. Braeckevelt said: "Who wouldn't do that? But we must wait and see how he feels."  

Mitsubishi also signed Geert Omloop. Omloop said: "My goal are the Belgian National Road Race Championships. I love that jersey." Other new signings are Geert Verheyen, who came over from Quickstep and Igor Abakoumov, who came back to the team after one season with Astana. Abakoumov did not want to say much about his year with Astana but said he is glad that he is back with his 'old' team again.

Last year the team won 18 races and Braeckevelt is aiming for 20 wins in 2008 but he knows its going to be a difficult task. The sports director thinks the team is not strong enough to win classics like the Tour of Flanders but he would like to see his riders "shine at races races like Dwars door Vlaanderen and the GP Cerami." Maybe that's the reason that Braeckevelt signed Stefan Van Dijk. Van Dijk told Cyclingheroes that one of his goals is to win a race "like Dwars door Vlaanderen."

Maxime Vantomme brought the Estonian pro-continental squad its first win of the new season. The Belgian young gun won the third stage of the African stage race La Tropicala Amissa Bongo.

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Chris Peers: "Frank is doing alright." ( Cyclingheroes)

A spokesperson of the Mitsubishi corporation said the company does not want to look back to "things that happened in the past." The company wants to look into the future of cycling and wants to evaluate its commitment at the end of the 2008 season. "We start in Belgium and will evaluate the first year. After that who knows what we might do. But first we want to see how things work out in this first year.
Frank Vandenbroucke and Stefan van Dijk told Cyclingheroes that the first year is a kind of test case and in the coming years Mitsubishi Europe might sponsor the team and then it could grow to be one of the major players in European cycling.

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Mitsubishi - Jartazi 2008 roster
Igor Abakoumov (Bel), Jan Boyen (Bel), Geoffrey Coupe (Bel), Mathieu Criquielion (Bel), Gregory Habeaux (Bel), Sven Nevens (Bel), Geert Omloop (Bel), Jarno Van Mingeroet (Bel), Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel), James Vanlandschoot (Bel), Geert Verheyen (Bel), Yohan Cauquil (Fra), Hans Dekkers (Ned), Frank Dressler (Ger), Mathieu Drouilly (Fra), Vytautas Kaupas (Lit), Kalle Kriit (Est), Guennady Mikhailov (Rus), Jens Mouris (Ned), Martial Ricci Poggi (Fra), Mindaugas Striska (Lit), Janek Tombak (Est), Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) andn Maxime Vantomme (Bel)

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