With an eye toward the sport’s biggest events—the Tour de France, Classics, Olympics and other top-tier stage races—Felt is proud to partner with the Project 1t4i men’s and women’s teams in 2012 and beyond.
As the official bike sponsor of the Dutch outfit, Felt supplies all the team’s road and time trial framesets. For road races, 1t4i riders compete on either F-Series or AR carbon frames. And for TT events, they race Felt’s flagship DA frames.
“When we began our search for an equipment supplier, we did so with the goal of racing against the fastest riders in the world in the biggest races in the world,” says Iwan Spekenbrink, general manager of the men’s Pro Continental team. “In this competitive environment, every advantage is critical. We know Felt’s industry-leading aerodynamics expertise and carbon fiber design methods will give our athletes an edge over the competition every time we line up.”
Felt has a long history of working with cycling’s top athletes to help push its product development under the most demanding conditions. Competing at the sport’s top level is part of Felt’s DNA—it helps fuel the process of creating cutting-edge technologies that benefit all cyclists.
“From our perspective, there is no team out there that offers the opportunities that 1t4i does,” said Felt’s founder and namesake Jim Felt. “The roster is a powerhouse loaded with young talent. With such a promising core of riders and an innovative staff, it’s truly a dream program for Felt’s return to the European race scene. We are excited to be back racing at the highest level again.”
Last year the 1t4i squad raced under the Skil-Shimano name. With Felt on board, it looks to build on its past successes and make the step up to the sport’s highest level. It embarks on its 2012 season with plenty of momentum, having won 21 races in 2011, including German Marcel Kittel’s dramatic sprint victory on Stage 7 of the Vuelta a España.
Other major highlights last year included Simon Geschke’s stage 2 win at Criterium International, Tom Veelers Stage 3 triumph at Tour de Wallonie-Picarde, and Kittel’s quartet of stage victories at the rough-and-tumble Four Days of Dunkirk.
This year, Kittel, fellow Germans John Degenkolb and Patrick Gretsch, Dutchman Veelers, and French pro Alexandre Geniez form the core of an international 26-man roster that also includes riders from China, Belgium, Sweden and Japan.
In 2012, 1t4i men’s team is focusing on all the major WorldTour races, with hopes to make it into the Tour de France. “Kittel could be a challenger to Mark Cavendish,” Spekenbrink says. “The Tour will certainly consider that.”
Indeed, Kittel is considered a rising star in the pro peloton, boasting both sprint prowess and top-tier time trialing ability. In 2009, he won the European U23 time trial title, and followed that up with a fourth-place effort at the world championships. A year later, Kittel snagged the German national time trial crown, and in 2011 he was Skill-Shimano’s top rider, notching an astounding 17 wins.
Other Project 1t4i riders to watch include recently re-signed German Roger Kluge, who won a silver medal in the points race at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The promising third-year pro started his career with ProTour powerhouse Milram, before moving over to Skill-Shimano in 2011. This year, Kluge continues his professional development, serving as a key lieutenant in Project 1t4i’s powerful sprint train, while also looking to add to his Olympic accomplishments by qualifying for the omnium at the 2012 London Games. Kluge won the European omnium title in 2010.
Tom Stamsnijder is another Project 1t4i rider to keep an eye on. The young Dutchman spent the 2011 season working for the Schleck brothers while riding for Leopard-Trek, and before that did stints with ProTour squads Gerolsteiner and Rabobank. His skill set leans toward the cobbled classics, and he boasts some seriously solid cycling DNA—his father Hennie won the world cyclocross championship title in 1981 and finished on the podium four other times.
“I’ve gained a lot of experience already in my career,” said the younger Stamsnijder. “Now I’m looking forward with great ambition to this new step in my career. Project 1t4i is very ambitious and I think I can continue to develop myself as a cyclist.”
In addition to the men’s team, there is a 1t4i women’s team, which will be led by Dutch riders Amy Pieters and Regina Bruins. The women’s team, made up of 10 top Dutch riders, is focused mainly on European road races and the upcoming 2012 London Olympics.
The 1t4i team name — a contraction for, “team spirit, inspiration, integrity, improvement and innovation” — is both reference to those aforementioned ambitions, and a promise to do things the right way. Project 1t4i’s Mission and Vision Statement declares that it will “offer a stable environment as a dynamic sports organization, serving as a base for top athletes to practice their sport successfully at the highest level.”