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Hitec Products UCK

Stability and consistency bolstered by strong additions 

Hitec Products UCK have been UCI registered since 2009, when Marianne Vos' former coach and Directeur Sportif (at DSB Bank), Thijs Rondhuis, worked with Karl Lima to establish a Norwegian team which was very much a development squad. The overseas riders, mainly Dutch, were experienced riders known by Rondhuis, who have since departed with the Dutchman to the Dolmans Landscaping team.

In 2009, the die was cast, the team rode Norwegian and international races and gained valuable experience. Two riders, Tone Hatteland and Sara Mustonen have been with the team since its inception and will continue in 2012. The team strengthened in 2010; Directeur Sportif, Martin Vestby, joined and the team continued with its Scandinavian development riders. There were also some 'known' signings from elsewhere. That is, German Lisa Brennaur and Dane Trine Schmidt joined. 

It was not until 2011 until perhaps the most famous member of the squad arrived; Emma Johansson. The Swede with the silver medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics road race completed her contract at Red Sun Cycling and began her time with Hitec. The team around her immediately seemed stronger; the mixture of longstanding riders, confidence and experience began to pay off. 

2011 was a watershed year for the team, a coming-of-age. It began when Emma Johansson successfully defended her early-season Het Niewsblad title in the country she calls home, Belgium. Johansson then performed strongly through the 'Classics' during the Northern European springtime. At the same time, sprinter, Sara Mustonen was getting stronger and acting increasingly noticeably as a very capable lieutenant to her team leader. 

In July, Johansson and the Hitec Products team took victory in the Thueringen Rundfahrt. Sweetened, perhaps, by the fact that Johansson had been forced to withdraw from the event in 2010 when wearing the leader's jersey. After winning the first stage, she became ill overnight and despite starting was unable to complete the second stage. 2011 was a different story, the team delivered Johansson to the line just 10 seconds down on general classification after the opening team time trial. She gained the lead after stage 2 and defended it with a solid team performance until after the fifth stage, an individual time trial. HTC-Highroad's Amber Neben held the lead overnight by three seconds, but the Hitec Products team performance on the final stage was aggressive and forced defence and reaction from Neben and her team-mates. A win in an intermediate bonus sprint and a finish position safe in the bunch gave Johansson the overall victory by six seconds. Johansson was overjoyed, she invited her team-mates onto the podium to recognise their contribution to her victory.

At the Trophee D'Or in August, Emily Moberg delivered a stage win in a sprint against fellow breakaways, Chantal Blaak and Loes Gunnewijk. The next day, Johansson won the final stage in a sprint finish in Saint Amand Montrond.

The season finished with Johansson on the podium at Holland Ladies Tour, second to Marianne Vos and once more on the World Cup series podium, this time third overall to the Dutch "double act" of  Annemiek van Vleuten and Vos. The World Championships were disappointing for Johansson, who finished 14th in the bunch.

Looking forward to 2012, the team will be strengthened further. In a further development in terms of experience and maturity, the signing of established riders continues. French road race Champion, Christel Ferrier Bruneau and Polish rider, Sylwia Kapusta, have signed contracts with the team. Also joining is young Italian, Elisa Longo Borghini, who rode consistently throughout 2011 and showed her talent and promise in the latter part of the season with strong performances in breaks in major races. With Sara Mustonen and Emily Moberg continuing, stage victories will doubtless increase in number. 

The squad, from its aspirant beginnings in 2009 has grown steadily, but consistently to be a contender in 2011 and it looks like it will be even more of a force in 2012. Martin Vestby will have more options for races in 2012, in terms of breaks, stage wins and importantly, strength in depth around Emma Johansson whilst she takes on rivals such as Marianne Vos in single day and stage races.

 

The riders confirmed for 2012 are : 

Johanne Bergseth   (Norway)	
Christel Ferrier Bruneau  (France)	
Tone Hatteland   (Norway)	
Cecilie Johansen   (Norway)	
Emma Johansson   (Sweden)	
Sylwia Kapusta   (Poland)	
Elisa Longo Borghini   (Italy)	
Emilie Moberg   (Norway)	
Sara Mustonen   (Sweden)	
Lise Nøstvold   (Norway)	
Thea Thorsen   (Norway)	
Marie Voreland   (Norway)	
Frøydis Waersted   (Norway) 	
Directeur Sportif  - Martin Vestby

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Photos   Click on any image to enlarge >>

 

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