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Sunweb signs Bakelants, Theuns cuts ties early

Edward Theuns says he didn't fit in with Sunweb and asked for an early release as the Dutch team reworks roster for 2019.

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Team Sunweb continues to shake up its lineup looking ahead to 2019.

On Wednesday, it confirmed the arrival of Belgian pro Jan Bakelants and the departure of once-touted Edward Theuns.

In a team statement, Theuns said he didn’t fit into the Sunweb system and asked to be released despite having one year left on his contract.

“It’s been a tough year for me mentally and physically,” Theuns said. “I tried to adapt to the team’s way of working, but it didn’t really work out for me. We differ in vision so we decided it would be best to end the contract.”

Theuns, 27, raced the Tour de France with Sunweb this year but did not win a race in his first year of a two-year deal with Sunweb after coming across from Trek-Segafredo. The Belgian’s won seven races in his career, with the last coming in 2017.

“I already have a new team,” Theuns told Sporza. “More information will be forthcoming. I will let the [new] team make the announcement.”

According to Sunweb officials, the two parties separated mutually on “good terms.”

“Following extensive talks, we realized that our visions differed too much and lack the common strong foundation that is required to continue working together,” said Rudi Kemna, Sunweb’s head of coaching. “Giving Edward the opportunity and freedom to continue his career elsewhere is only the right decision.”

Along with Theuns, there are some other key departures for 2019. Simon Geschke, a Tour de France stage-winner and key helper, is heading to CCC Team along with experienced domestique Laurens Ten Dam. Mike Teunissen and Lennard Hofstede are heading to LottoNL-Jumbo while Phil Bauhaus to Bahrain-Merida.

Sunweb is aiming to rebuild its core around some important signings. Bakelandts and Nicolas Roche arrive from BMC Racing, providing some experience, but the team is betting once again on youth. Robert Power moves across from Mitchelton-Scott while Casper Pedersen joins in the wake of the Aqua Blue closure. Cees Bol and Asborn Kragh Andersen, older brother of Sunweb rider Soren Kragh Andersen, both bump into the WorldTour and Marc Hirschi, Max Kanter and Joris Nieuwenhuis are promoted from Sunweb’s development program.

The core of the team remains centered around Tom Dumoulin, who is expected to target the Tour next year after finishing second in both the Giro d’Italia and Tour in 2017. Wilco Kelderman, Michael Matthews, and the ever-improving Sam Oomen will see leadership roles in key races. Chad Haga remains the lone American on the roster.