Team Raleigh unveils its 2012 twelve man squad, along with new co-sponsor, logistics giant GAC
Above: National Criterium Champion Graham Briggs (centre) heads up a strong twelve man lineup for 2012.
British Cycling was invited to the Team Raleigh launch at the famous Raleigh Cycles HQ in Nottingham this week. The launch coincided with the bike manufacturer celebrating its 125th anniversary and guests included bike shop owners from across the country who had the opportunity to meet the star riders as well as try out the full range of 2012 bikes.
Above: 2012 is Raleigh's 125th birthday, celebrated with special headbadges on limited edition bikes and special edition cupcakes for launch guests.
Nine new riders make up the roster, along with Jeroen Janssen, Jamie Sparling and Liam Holohan who excelled for the team last year.
Two of the most high profile names to join the squad are current National Criterium Champion Graham Briggs and Australian rider Bernie Sulzberger, the latter joining the team later in January after riding the Tour Down Under in Australia.
Above: Launch guests were given the chance to view the entire Raleigh UK product line at the company's Nottingham HQ.
Also joining the squad are Evan Oliphant, Brennan Townshend, Simon Holt, Russell Hampton and Tobyn Horton from the UK, and US-rider Daniel Holloway.
Team Director Cherie Pridham said "Jeroen, Jamie and Liam had a great season in 2011, so we're excited they'll be flying the flag again for Raleigh-GAC in 2012. We've got some promising youngsters too, such as Brennan Townshend (winner of the Junior Tour Of Wales in 2011) from Devon. We're hoping the example set by Bernie Sulzberger and Graham Briggs will bring the younger guys on in leaps and bounds."
Team Raleigh-GAC will target the Premier Calendar, Tour Series and the Tour of Britain races in the UK, and thanks to its continental licence and results over the past three years the team will also race across Europe, Asia and the US.
Above: Raleigh Marketing Director Geoff Giddings addresses the assembled guests.
Following Sulzberger's strong performances there is plenty of confidence among the riders and management at Raleigh HQ. Raleigh Marketing Director Geoff Giddings said: "I'm really pleased to welcome these new riders to the team. We've got a great blend of youth and experience now with strengths in every category of racing so we're expecting to see the Raleigh name featuring highly on the domestic scene again. As well as the SP Team bikes we're also testing these boys on the Raleigh Militus, designed by Raleigh USA and for sale in the UK in 2013."
Above: The team will be using the Raleigh Militus for 2012 - top end road bike of Raleigh USA's range, the Militus will be available in the UK in 2013.
The team now head out to a training camp in Majorca and its domestic racing season kicks off at the Eddie Soens Classic at Aintree, Liverpool on Saturday 3rd March 2012.
With current National Circuit Champion Graham Briggs in the squad the Raleigh boys should be at the forefront in the criterium and sprint finish Premier Calendar races this season. It remains to be seen how the new boys will adapt to UK elite racing, but Raleigh have certainly invested in some quality riders to bolster the team and will be hopeful the champagne they tasted at the team launch is the first glass of many in the coming season.