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AG2r Prévoyance (France)
ALB: Alessio - Bianchi (Italy)
BLB: Brioches La Boulangère (France)
CA: Crédit Agricole (France)
CHO: Chocolade Jacques - Wincor Nixdorf (Belgium)
COF: Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone (France)
CSC: Team CSC (Denmark)
EUS: Euskaltel - Euskadi (Spain)
FAS: Fassa Bortolo (Italy)
FDJ: fdjeux.com (France)
GST: Gerolsteiner (Germany)
IBB: Illes Balears - Banesto (Spain)
LAN: Landbouwkrediet - Colnago (Belgium)
Lotto - Domo (Belgium)
LST: Liberty Seguros (Spain)
MOB: T-Mobile Team (Germany)
PHO: Phonak Hearing Systems (Switzerland)
QSD: Quickstep - Davitamon (Belgium)
RAB: Rabobank (Netherlands)
RAG: R.A.G.T Semence - MG Rover (France)
REB: Relax - Bodysol (Spain)
SAE: Saeco (Italy)
SDV: Saunier Duval - Prodir (Spain)
USP: US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor (USA)
VIN: Vini Caldirola - Nobili Rubinetterie (Italy)
The Lotto-Domo squad was presented on Tuesday, February 10, in Oudenaarde, Belgium. The 23 man squad managed by Christophe Sercu is remarkable in that it only has one new rider this year: Pole Piotr Wadecki, who rode for Quick.Step last year. The remainder of the team is identical to the 2003 line up.
Rising from the ashes of the hugely successful ONCE team, Manolo Saiz' Liberty Seguros squad was presented in Madrid, Spain. Roberto Heras is the designated team leader, as befits a double Vuelta winner, alongside Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and 2003 Vuelta revelation Isidro Nozal.
Is this finally a strong enough squad to land Saiz the Tour de France victory he has always wanted? We'll know in July.
The newly dubbed T-Mobile Team (former Team Telekom) was presented in Luc Mayor on the Spanish island of Mallorca, with former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich back in the fold after a year with Teams Coast and Bianchi. On paper the team appears one of the strongest for 2004, and Ullrich himself called the 25 man team the best he's known.
Professional team presentations are by nature supposed to be enthusiastic affairs, showing off the latest recruits, team leaders, perhaps new uniforms and equipment. Switzerland's only professional team, Phonak Hearing Systems, unveiled an ambitious project, led by an ambitious man.
The Quick.Step-Davitamon team was presented to the press on Friday, January 9 in Waregem, Belgium. Ranked number two in the world at the end of last year, Quick.Step riders won 22 races, including Paolo Bettini's three World Cups and the overall World Cup classification, Richard Virenque's stage win and KOM jersey in the Tour de France, Michael Rogers' wins in the Tours of Belgium, Germany and the Route du Sud, and Johan Museeuw's win and the team's domination of one of the most important Belgian races, Het Volk.
The number one Dutch team Rabobank held its team presentation in Hilversum on January 15. The 25 man squad is remarkable in that only three 'new' riders have joined since last year: Hans Dekkers, Joost Posthuma and Pieter Weening, all of whom have been promoted from the Division III team. Rabobank is well known for its development squads and thus it has a large pool of talent to draw from when seeking riders for the top team.
A sponsor new to cycling enters the fray this year as French agricultural firm RAGT Semences assumes title sponsorship of the team formerly known as Jean Delatour. One of last year's team sponsors, the MG-Rover automobile brand, steps up to a larger level of support for 2004, while Jean Delatour remains a sponsor but in a much smaller capacity.
Spanish registered team Relax-Bodysol held its presentation in Wevelgem, Belgium on Thursday evening, January 22. The team is a splice between the old Relax-Fuenlabrada squad and Quick.Step manager Patrick Lefevere's latest brainchild, Bodysol-Brustor [Bodysol is a division of Omega Pharma, which also owns Davitamon]. Bodysol was originally set up as a Division II feeder team for Quick.Step-Davitamon, but decided to merge with Relax-Fuenlabrada last year. Then when Kelme and Domina Vacanze were denied Division I status, Relax-Bodysol grabbed the chance to move into Division I.
Although Claudio Corti's Saeco Macchine per Caffe team saw World Champion Igor Astarloa depart for another team at the end of 2003, Corti nonetheless has major ambitions for his Saeco squad in 2004. With proven star riders on the Saeco roster like Gilberto Simoni, Danilo Di Luca and Dario Pieri, there's no reason that the 24 man squad won't again be one of the most competitive cycling teams in the world in 2004. On a crisp, sunny morning in Torino, at new team clothing sponsor Kappa's HQ, Italian comics Elio and Faso were part of the lively team presentation, but behind the fun was a deadly serious group of world class bike riders determined to make their mark this season.
El Grande Hotel Puente Viesgo in Spain's northwestern Cantabria region was the site of the Saunier Duval-Prodir 2004 team presentation Friday, January 24. Team manager Mauro Gianetti has teamed up with the Iglesias family, father Félix and son Roberto of Saunier Duval Spain, long-time sponsors of the sport, to put together the Iberian Peninsula's eighth pro squad for 2004. Saunier Duval makes state of the art home heating systems, while Prodir makes high quality Swiss pens used for promotional purposes. Saunier Duval-Prodir will start 2004 in Division I and the team has put together an interesting team roster with a 3.5 million euro budget.
As usual a big crowd of journalists awaited the words of Lance Armstrong today at the press conference held by the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team presented by Berry Floor. A very relaxed Armstrong expressed how happy he is with the team this year and how they have been "blessed" once again with perfect weather for their team training camp in Solvang, California.
The question on most people's lips was whether Armstrong was definitely going to be participating in the Tour de Georgia this year as was recently released by the race organization. Armstrong did not confirm one way or another whether he would in fact start in the race, but that it was indeed possible.
Despite losing co-sponsor Saunier Duval, which has formed its own division I team this year, Vini Caldirola will return in 2004 with Stefano Garzelli at the helm again. With water tap manufacturer Nobili Rubinetterie coming on board as a co-sponsor, the squad can still boast a roster of 23 riders with the most notable new signing being Russian strongman Pavel Tonkov (CCC-Polsat). The team has lost the likes of Gianluca Bortolami, Andrej Hauptman, Eddy Mazzoleni, Fred Rodriguez and Romans Vainsteins, and while that will weaken it in the classics it should still be a competitive squad in the Giro d'Italia, which remains Garzelli's main goal.