Road

CCC/BMC beefs up roster with Barta, Geschke

The two teams are joining forces for 2019 and will focus on the classics with Greg Van Avermaet.

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — The new CCC team with the BMC Racing structure is beefing up for its 2019 debut with key signees American Will Barta and German climbing ace Simon Geschke.

Geschke joins the squad after riding alongside Tom Dumoulin at Team Sunweb. He helped Dumoulin win the 2017 Giro d’Italia and finish second in the Tour de France last month.

“Simon Geschke has forged an impressive career to date, including his 2015 Tour de France stage win, and will bring a wealth of experience to the team,” general manager Jim Ochowicz said.

“Simon is a specialist when it comes to the Ardennes classics and Il Lombardia, so he will add strength to our team for those one-day races, whether it be in a support role or making the most of opportunities that come his way.”

The 32-year-old rode with Sunweb since the beginning of the franchise, joining when it was called Skil-Shimano in 2009. He rode 11 grand tours and won a Tour de France stage.

“I was looking for a new challenge after 10 years with the same team as that is a long time,” Geschke said. “I wanted to change teams at least once in my career and I thought this year would be a good time, and then this opportunity came up so I took it.”

The new BMC Racing team is building quickly after a late sponsorship deal saw several key riders slip away to other teams. Richie Porte, Tejay van Garderen, Rohan Dennis, and others will depart at the end of 2018.

BMC bikes will stop its sponsorship, but Ochowicz struck a deal with CCC-Sprandi-Polkowice last month. Ochowicz will take the WorldTour license and structure and add it to the Pro Continental team with its Polish sponsor and some of its riders.

Its star rider will be Greg Van Avermaet. The 2016 Olympic road race champion and 2017 Paris-Roubaix winner confirmed he would stick with Ochowicz when CCC was announced.

Barta, 22, will step up to the big leagues from Hagens Berman Axeon.

“Over the years we have welcomed many young riders in their neo-pro years and Will certainly represents the next generation of American cycling talent,” Ochowicz said. “One of Will’s breakthrough results was fourth at the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2017 and with our focus on the classics, Will caught our attention.

Said Barta, “The races I look forward to most are the Ardennes classics. I really enjoyed that type of racing at the U23 level and in the last few years I have become a better climber. I’ve really worked hard on the longer climbs so I’m looking forward to seeing how I can do in stage races as well.

“Time trialing is also something I like and have done quite well at. I like the aspect of it being just you out there and you can see from the team’s results that time trials are a big focus so that’s definitely attractive for me, to be able to learn from the best. To have the opportunity to learn from a champion like Greg Van Avermaet and the older guys in the team will be amazing and I can’t wait.”

The team also signed climber Serge Pauwels from Dimension Data and classics rider Guillaume Van Keirsbulck from Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

It has yet to announce which of the 20 riders from CCC will stay onboard. Jan Tratnik is already confirmed to be joining Bahrain-Merida in 2019.