Trek Factory Racing is focusing on North American talent next year as the U.S.-registered team prepares for the 2016 season.
Last week, the team closed out its 2016 roster with 25 riders, slightly reduced from 27 last year, and brought in three new North American riders — Ryder Hesjedal (from Cannondale-Garmin), Peter Stetina (BMC Racing), and Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare).
“Obviously, we must also pay attention to the desires of our sponsors,” Trek general manager Luca Guercilena said in a press release. “The U.S. market is always growing for Trek, and this is why we also need to adapt our roster to have some Americans on board, and we think we have found some good guys.”
Hesjedal is the team’s first Canadian, while Stetina and Reijnen double the team’s U.S. presence. Matthew Busche, bound for UHC in 2016, was the team’s lone American the past few seasons.
Hesjedal, the 2012 Giro d’Italia winner and a consistent grand tour performer, is the team’s top signing among seven new arrivals for 2016. The 34-year-old will complement Bauke Mollema in the grand tours. And though Trek did not seek other major signings, the team did add former WorldTour rider Jack Bobridge, who raced at the continental level in 2015, Italian talent Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida), stagiaire Julien Bernard, and promising Belgian rider Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen).
Ten riders leave for 2016. In addition to Busche, Bob Jungels is heading to Etixx-Quick-Step and Danny Van Poppel is going to Sky. Gert Steegmans and Hayden Roulston both retire, while Jesse Sergent, Daniel McConnell, Kristof Vandewalle, Calvin Watson, and Fabio Silvestre are still looking for rides.
Trek retained many of its established veterans, including such riders as Frank Schleck, Haimar Zubeldia, Gregory Rast, Yaroslav Popovych, Markel Irizar, and Stijn Devolder.
Classics superstar Fabian Cancellara, who endured an injury-plagued 2015 campaign, will be hoping for one more stampede across the pavé next year before likely retiring at the end of 2016.
Mollema will carry the team colors in the Tour de France, while Laurent Didier, Julian Arredondo, Giacomo Nizzolo, and Jasper Stuyven will see more responsibilities in the classics and stage races.
“I think we needed some change because this season was not super,” Guercilena said. “On top of this, we know with the new reform, we need aggressive riders and ones that can be more combative on the climbs. It is really important, notably in the grand tours, that we are present in the overall classification, and all the stages relevant to this. This year, we were highly competitive in the Tour de France, and need to be consistent this way across all three grand tours.”