Former Tour of Flanders champion Alexander Kristoff will join UAE Team Emirates for the 2018 season. The team announced the news Wednesday via social media, confirming rumors that the Norwegian will break off his strained relationship with Katusha-Alpecin.
Throughout the first half of 2017, numerous media outlets reported discord between Kristoff and the Swiss squad. He’s raced for Katusha since 2012.
Now it looks like the 2014 Milano-Sanremo winner will get a fresh start with UAE.
“The definitive contract will be signed in the next few weeks, after some routine tests by the team’s medical staff,” the team wrote on Facebook. It added that he would be signed for a two-year contract.
Assuming the transfer goes to plan, Kristoff, 30, would likely be UAE Team Emirates’s key classics leader. He might pair up with Brit Ben Swift, who was second in Milano-Sanremo 2016.
The move will be a big boost for UAE. The team has only 13 UCI wins to its credit so far in 2017. Its biggest result came at the Giro d’Italia, where Jan Polanc won stage 4 on Mount Etna.
An outgrowth of the Italian Lampre-Merida team, the UAE outfit got a huge infusion of cash earlier in 2017. In February, Fly Emirates came aboard as a co-sponsor. With a budget now rumored to be around 15-20 million euros, the team is expected to beef up its roster for 2018.
“Now we have a responsibility to win,” team manager Guiseppe Saronni said in February. “Important sponsors expect big results.”