An ambitious Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team was presented to the press today in Kaatsheuvel. Team manager Danny Stam, world champion Lizzie Armitstead and European Games time trial gold medallist Ellen van Dijk looked back with pride at a successful 2015 and set clear new goals for the 2016 Olympic year.
The Dutch-registered UCI women's team retained all ten riders that made last year a success and added Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada) and Nikki Harris (Great Britain) as reinforcements. Following the team’s most winning season to date, world champion Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britian), Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands), Chantal Blaak (Netherlands), Demi de Jong (Netherlands), Megan Guarnier (USA), Evelyn Stevens (USA), Romy Kasper (Germany), Christine Majerus (Luxembourg), Kasia Pawlowska (Poland) and Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark) all elected to stay with the squad where they shared in success-after-success.
Team manager Danny Stam is proud of the squad he has assembled. He said: "Our team had a very successful season last year, which was largely influenced by the balance we struck between strong finishers and loyal supporting riders within the team. I’m extremely happy that we were able to return all our riders and can add Canuel and Harris into the fold. Our two new riders seem to fit seamlessly into the current formation.”
Team Time Trial World Championships
The Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team dozen remain as hungry and motivated as ever following their past performances and results. While Stam is quick to embrace the success, he also recognizes the work still to be done.
“We had an amazing season last year, achieving nearly all our objectives,” said Stam. “We had wins from start to finish beginning in Qatar all the way through to the World Championships. It'll be a tough year to top.”
“There are just two negatives from 2015,” Stam noted. “One was failing to win the Tour of Flanders, and the other was missing out on the world team time trial title by six seconds. Those two races are now two key goals for 2016."
The 2016 season sees the introduction of the Women’s WorldTour calendar, replacing the World Cup series won by Armitstead in 2014-2015. The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will also shape the season.
"It's our job to get as many of our riders as possible to Rio,” said Stam. “The number of riders we have that can start and shine at the Olympics shows our quality and depth.”
“After Rio, there will be enough time to focus on the World Championships,” Stam noted. “The title race will now take place in Qatar in October. Missing out by a hair's width on the team time trial world title in Richmond was a disappointment, but that disappointment has become determination to go for the main prize in 2016.”
“And that's what we'll do. We've got the gear, the riders, the time and the know-how to go for gold."
Lizzie Armitstead: ‘A dream to wear the rainbow jersey’
Lizzie Armitstead will relish the racing in the rainbow jersey she earned in Richmond last year when she won a small group sprint for the most coveted title in cycling – road world champion.
"It's every cyclist's dream to wear the rainbow jersey,” said Armitstead. “It's iconic in professional cycling. My three main goals for the new year are the Tour of Flanders, the Olympic Games in Rio and the team time trial at the Qatar World Championships. I'll be including more races on hilly terrain in my competition schedule to prepare for a tough road race in Rio."
Dutch rider Ellen van Dijk is also aiming for an Olympic ticket. She said: “It will mean some adjustments to my season - I'll need to incorporate some high altitude with an eye to Rio. This will allow me to focus more on climbing on the time trial bike, which is absolutely crucial, as there are two big climbs in the time trial course of the Olympic Games.”
Van Dijk also plans to peak for the spring season and the World Championships in Qatar.
American champion Megan Guarnier had a breakout season last year. With the results came a boost in confidence, and Guarnier starts 2016 with lofty but entirely achievable objectives.
“The Rio Olympics are an all-encompassing goal at the moment,” said Guarnier. I can’t think much beyond that goal at this time. I’m always super excited about doing the classics, and we have a great team for the races in the spring. The Giro Rosa is one of the hardest, longest races on the calendar and a race that I really look forward to, and we’ll be sending a strong team for that race too.”
The best equipment for the winning team
Key industry partners Specialized, SRAM, Zipp , Quarq and Bioracer return to the Boels-Dolmans family in 2016. The 12-rider squad will race the Specialized Amira with SRAM red and the electronic eTap group sets, Zipp handlebar, stems and wheels and Specialized tires.
In addition to the performance products from Specialized the company also supports the team through Specialized Racing. Providing Body Geometry Fits for the riders to ensure the bikes ergonomically optimized and comfortable for each individual rider. Specialized Racing also provides technical assistance with velodrome and wind tunnel testing.
Additional key returning partners include Tacx, Oakley, lululemon and Rocktape. Boels-Dolmans proudly welcomes Etixx as the team’s official nutrition partner for the 2016 season.