Axeon Hagens Berman to jump to Pro Continental in 2018

Further investment from title sponsor has made jump to Pro Continental status possible, but team will stay focused on U23 rider development.

An increase in investment from its title sponsor will allow Axeon Hagens Berman to apply for Professional Continental status for the 2018 season, the team announced Friday.

The move to the Professional Continental level, up from Continental, will allow Axeon to enter bigger races and also guarantees the team’s entire roster of 18 to 23-year-olds a minimum salary.

Axeon is one of cycling’s premier development teams, responsible for sending 22 riders into the WorldTour since its founding by Axel Merckx in 2009. Taylor Phinney, Joe Dombrowski, Ben King, Lawson Craddock, and Tao Geoghegan Hart all came through the program.

The upgrade in status is made possible by further investment from the team’s current title sponsor, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, a law firm.

“Youth development in cycling has always been important to me, and I want to give this team an opportunity to do it on a bigger scale,” said Steve W. Berman. “Hagens Berman is excited to invest in the team and its move up to the Pro Continental level.”

The team will continue to be registered in the United States, and Merckx will seek to build at least 60% of his 2018 roster with young Americans.

“The additional sponsorship investment will allow the team to continue its tradition of nurturing and advancing young, talented riders from the amateur ranks to the highest level of the sport,” Merckx said. “In the past nine seasons, we have sent 22 riders to the World Tour.” Getting riders to this level will continue to remain our focus. We believe that this program is unique and important for the future of the sport.”