Giro d'Italia

CCC Team rides out last Giro d’Italia on wave of unity

American rider Joey Rosskopf secures future as CCC Team races its final Giro d'Italia before Circus-Wanty Gobert takes over.

PIANCAVALLO, Italy (VN) – CCC Team is riding out its final Giro d’Italia, and while the eight men in orange still barely know each other, they’ve come together under a common cause as the team folds at the end of the season.

The squad will be losing its marquee men after a summer of sponsor uncertainty and will see its WorldTour license taken over by Circus-Wanty Gobert in 2021. With the Belgian team set to fill next year’s roster with 18 of its currently on-contract riders, Jim Ochowicz’s Giro eight know they are racing together for the final time.

Having only existed in its current incarnation for two years, CCC Team’s squad started to come together just as they are set to split apart.

“It’s a little strange because CCC in this form has only existed two years, and even then, we took a lot of new riders at the start of this year,” Joey Rosskopf told VeloNews after the Giro’s second time trial Saturday.

“We don’t know each other that well,” the American said. “A lot of the new guys that started this year I only met once in December, and raced with them first in August, so it’s a quick get-to-know-you. But grand tours are good for that, you’re stuck together for a month. The guys here have been good about caring for each other, and the camaraderie is strong when you share a  difficult situation like this.”

Out on the road, knowing it’s the end of an era has drawn together what was a disparate group of eight riders into a band of brothers.

“From the first year, it was a really nice team, it all came together well,” said Spanish veteran Victor de la Parte. “It’s a real shame [the team is ending], but it’s something special to be riding together for the last time at this Giro. Knowing it’s the last chance to ride together, and to show ourselves at a grand tour adds something.”

CCC Team has been knocking on the door of its morale-boosting final hurrah at this Giro.

Rosskopf scooped fourth on the stage into Vieste last weekend and again missed the podium by one slot on the attritional stage around Cesenatico a few days later. Half an hour before Rosskopf spoke with VeloNews at the post-stage mixed zone Saturday, Czech national time trial champion Josef Černy rolled past, his head down and still laboring under the effort of his ride to fifth in the 34-kilometer test.

For Černy, it’s a race for the future. The 27-year-old is without a contract for next year, and likewise, teammates De la Parte and Kamil Gradek are also without deals for 2021.

Rosskopf will ride at least one more year at the top of pro cycling, however. The 31-year-old, who has ridden as part of the Continuum Sports franchise for five years after joining the WorldTour with BMC Racing in 2015, told VeloNews that he has a contract in place for 2021 – but the destination is still under wraps.

For those left without a home for 2021 as Wanty Gobert brings in the 18 riders it has under contract for the next year, harnessing teammates’ networks is crucial. While top stars like Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin have secured their respective futures, others are still hoping to find a late-season lifeline.

“No one likes to see cyclists left out of the sport, and it’s such a tough year to find a job. Everyone is looking out for each other, even if you’re signed up yourself, you try to help someone out,” Rosskopf said.

“Everyone’s just trying to take it in stride. It’s nice to see everyone on the team being open about their plans for the next season and the year after. Riders and staff, they’re all trying to help each other to find a place on any program they can.”

With just six stages remaining at this year’s Giro, De la Parte, Černy, and Gradek will be racing every day like it’s their last.

“It gives something to ride for,” De la Parte said.