French TT champion leaves Omega Pharma for Pro Continental Swiss team
After a debut season that saw the IAM Cycling team miss out on all of cycling’s grand tours, the Swiss squad has bolstered its 2014 roster with big-name signings led by French time trial champion Sylvain Chavanel.
Joining Chavanel at IAM are Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate Jérôme Pineau, Mathias Frank (from BMC Racing), Roger Kluge (from NetApp-Endura), and Vicente Reynes (Lotto-Belisol). The team announced the signings in a press conference on Thursday at its Nyon, Switzerland, service course.
The team also announced that it plans to return in 2014 as a UCI Pro Continental team. While IAM Cycling missed out on the season’s three-week tours, its saw some success, with an overall win at the Tour Méditerranéen, the mountains prize at Paris-Nice, and the sprint jersey at the Tour de Romandie.
Team owner Michel Thétaz said he was surprised to have a great deal of interest from riders in the transfer market.
“With the culture and spirit of the team, we were able to accomplish wonderful things this year,” he said. “Our recipe appears to have succeeded. We haven’t often been to heaven, but on the other hand, we know the stars well. Maybe we didn’t have as much luck at the Paris-Roubaix as we would have hoped, but we did succeed in winning races in Germany, France, Italy as well as Switzerland. In 2014, we will be even stronger and more efficient with our forces. I can admit that I was quite surprised by the level of interest we had from riders making requests to join the team. So naturally, we have taken great care in choosing among the requests from riders, many of whom are very well known.”
Chavanel’s transfer from classics powerhouse Omega Pharma should provide him new opportunities to ride as a leader in the spring one-day races, as well as week-long stage races. With IAM Cycling, the Frenchman will team up with Heinrich Haussler to give the team a two-pronged attack. The move, however, puts his participation in the 2014 Tour de France in question. IAM Cycling will rely on a wildcard invite to participate in each of the WorldTour events on the calendar.
“Both Michel Thétaz and I agreed that it seemed natural to set out to boost the roster for 2014,” said general manager Serge Beucherie. “Thanks to the prevailing atmosphere among our current riders as well as how seriously we take our work, we did manage to interest a number of excellent riders in our program. Arrivals such as Sylvain Chavanel and Mathias Frank are perfect examples. We have every reason to be satisfied with our progress and look forward to continuing in the same direction that we have taken ever since the team was founded in April 2012.”