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Bora-Hansgrohe signs ski mountaineer Anton Palzer

Squad signs 27-year-old winter sports standout who boasts 'exceptional' performance data.

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Bora-Hansgrohe has signed ski mountaineer and mountain runner Anton Palzer for 2021.

The 27-year-old German joins the team in his first venture in pro cycling after excelling in winter sports since 2012. Palzer has no experience in bike racing to date.

“It may look like a daring venture and a certain risk is definitely involved, but we have been following Toni [Palzer] for quite a long time and are convinced of his physical abilities,” said team manager Ralph Denk. “You can see from examples like Roglič or Woods that such an experiment can be successful, and we have always said that we would scout within different sports.”

Palzer first came into contact with the German squad having approached team coach Helmut Dollinger this April to ask for support preparing for the world ski mountaineering championships.

“It was soon clear that some of his performance values, such as his VO2max, are exceptional,” Dollinger said. “In summer, he trains a lot on the bike anyway, so we examined his data in detail. However, the decisive factor for this change was that Toni was certain that he wanted to try it. The potential is there, but data isn’t everything.”

Palzer recently tied his own speed record for the Watzmann crossing run, racing across a 23-kilometer, 2,300m altitude trail in 2:47 hours. He also took second overall in the ski mountaineering world cup in 2019. After completing one more season in his current sports, Palzer will pivot full-time to the bike.

“Professional cyclist – for a long time this was just a thought in the back of my mind, a little dream that seemed unattainable and miles away from my realm of possibilities,” Palzer said. “The decision to embark on a new sporting career was only made during my contact with Bora-Hansgrohe and matured alongside several further discussions with the team.”

The 27-year-old had joined the squad for a week at a training camp in Austria this summer as he looks to prepare for life in the saddle.

“The challenges for me personally are, on the one hand, embarking on the development from individual sportsman to team player, and also a certain change of rhythm: Up until now I was primarily a winter sportsman, and now the focus is on summer,” Palzer said.

“From a sporting point of view, I will have to slowly grow into cycling and develop a certain racing intelligence. In the first year, I will also have to cope with the challenge of a double season (winter and summer).”

Last month, Italian squad Androni Giocattoli Sidermec inked a two-year deal with former Olympic cross-country skier Marti Vigo, who similarly had little experience racing bikes.