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Transfer: Rui Costa hunts new opportunities with move to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert

The 35-year-old former world champion comes across following six seasons with UAE Team Emirates.

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Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux continues building out its 2023 roster, this time with the arrival of former world champion Rui Costa.

The 35-year-old comes across following six seasons with UAE Team Emirates, and the Belgian team is hoping he can help bolster their results in the Ardennes classics and one-week stage races.

Costa, who hasn’t won a WorldTour-level race since 2017, said he hopes to revive his own palmarès in the move to new surroundings.

“I want to show fighting spirit to achieve collective goals and I dream about the possibility to conquer new victories,” Costa said. “Riders like Rein Taaramäe or my former teammates Alexander Kristoff and Louis Meintjes are great examples, riders who converted their rich experience and great potential into fantastic results within Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux.

“Riders from the team also told me about their ‘super fast’ Cube Bikes. Material is one of the most important factors to be able to perform and when I think about my future bike, I feel like a kid receiving new toys. I really want to thank the team for the belief in me, I’m convinced that we will have a good time together.”

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The 35-year-old Portuguese rider won the 2013 worlds as well as stages in the Tour de France and the Tour de Suisse overall title three times.

Performance manager Aike Visbeek said he hopes the arrival of the longtime WorldTour pro can help provide additional depth and experience to the younger pros on the team.

“We learned this season that the presence of experience and great champions in our rosters can be a decisive element in achieving success,” Visbeek said. “This experience and decision-making skills are very precious to enable guys like Lorenzo Rota and Georg Zimmermann to make the next step in their careers. Rui is motivated to pass on his experience or to play an important role in grand tours alongside riders like Louis Meintjes or Biniam Girmay.

“He has a clear personal ambition and in our team we want to offer him this balance by giving him a prominent position in stage races or hard one day races which suit him. We’re looking forward to see him shine from the start of the season, just like he did this spring with GC podiums in the Saudi Tour and the Tour of Oman. Rui makes a very motivated impression and showed a particular interest in our team, convincing us that he was the rider we were looking for.”