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UPDATED: An Post Sean Kelly team unveils 2012 squad

Posted 09 February 2012

The line-up for the 2012 An Post sponsored Sean Kelly Cycling team was revealed in Brussels today, with an eighteen man team announced, including ten new signings.
There will be a strong Irish contingent once again as Mark Cassidy, Sam Bennett and Ronan McLaughlin have all been re-signed, as well as a permanent return to the side for Connor McConvey who re-joined the setup at the end of last season. Talented young Irish rider Sean Downey has also penned a one year deal with the team.
“My first few weeks with the team have been really enjoyable. We had a couple of great training camps in Calpe and then racing in the Etoile De Besseges last week was a tough, but good experience. I’m hungry for more of these opportunities to show what I can do” Downey said.

2011 An Post Rás victor and Tour of Britain stage winner Gediminas Bagdonas has been retained by the team after a proposed move to the Pro Tour fell through. While Liverpudlian Mark McNally has also inked a new one year deal following the collapse of his move to Europcar.

Three new UK riders have been added to the setup; Jonathan Bellis, Mark Christian and Jonathan Mould. Bellis joins from Saxo Bank on the Pro Tour, following a return to the sport after a serious accident in 2009.

Mould and Christian are riders with notable track backgrounds and they both participated in the 2010 Commonwealth games in Delhi. 20-year old Australian rider Scott Law, a previous stage winner of the Tour of Geelong, has also been added to the squad.

Veteran strongman Niko Eeckhout and Pieter Ghyllebert have both been re-signed. They are joined by five new Belgian signees; Kenneth Van Bilsen, Niels Wytinck, Roy Jans, Joren Segers and Stijn Ennekens.

Team manager Kurt Bogaerts is excited about the squad he has put together and the fact he retained riders that he expected to move on.

“I think the squad looks very strong this year. We were able to keep riders like Bagdonas and McNally, who had done enough to make the next step up to the Pro Tour. However, circumstances changed and although I was disappointed they didn’t get their move it means we retained two good riders,” he said.
“We had an excellent year in 2011 with some outstanding results and I expect us to be at that level again this season. We have made plenty of new signings with a lot of talented young riders coming on board, so for some it will be a case of developing them long term but the team still has that level of experience required to get some big results over the year,” he added.

The An Post squad first trip back to Ireland will come in May as they look to defend Bagdonas’ Rás win. “We are looking forward to returning to Ireland for the Rás and defending Bagdonas’ title. This year will be extra special as it’s the 60th anniversary of the race, so there will an added incentive for us to perform well in front of our Irish fans”  said team director Seán Kelly.

The An Post sponsored team was set up by Sean Kelly seven years ago as an extension of the Sean Kelly Academy to give young Irish cyclists a base from which to compete in Belgium, with the pro team designed to give young Irish riders access to a programme of top international races. This is An Post’s fifth year sponsoring the team.

2012 An Post Sean Kelly Team

Mark Cassidy (IRL)
Ronan McLaughlin (IRL)
Sam Bennett (IRL)
Sean Downey (IRL)
Connor McConvey (IRL)
Mark McNally (UK)
Mark Christian (UK)
Jonathan Bellis (UK)
Jonathan Mould (UK)
Niko Eeckhout (BEL)
Pieter Ghyllabert (BEL)
Joren Segers (BEL)
Nils Wytinck (BEL)
Roy Jans (BEL)
Kenneth Van Bilsen (BEL)
Stijn Ennekens (BEL)
Scott  Law (AUS)
Gediminas Bagdonas (LTU)
Manager: Kurt Bogaerts
Director: Sean Kelly

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