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Zoidl in, Denifl out in late-hour moves at CCC

Zoidl returns to WorldTour having raced with Trek-Segafredo until 2016, while Denifl pulls out of new team on "personal reasons."

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In a pair of late-hour moves, CCC Team swaps out Stefan Denifl for Riccardo Zoidl ahead of the team’s inaugural season.

The 31-year-old Denifl pulled out of his 2019 contract with the team citing personal reasons, the team confirmed late Sunday. On Monday, it revealed that it was replacing one Austrian rider with another, as Zoidl joins the new WorldTour team.

Without giving away details, a team press release stated that management and Denifl “mutually agreed” to terminate a contract, citing “personal reasons.” Team management said it would not provide additional comment to “respect Stefan’s privacy.” There was no other immediate information available about what prompted Denifl’s departure.

Less than 12 hours later, CCC confirmed the arrival of 30-year-old Zoidl, who rode three seasons in the WorldTour with Trek-Segafredo in 2014-2016. The team said it would use Zoidl in one-week stage races and count on his confirmed climbing ability.

Though it was only announced Monday, Zoidl had already joined his future teammates at a December training camp earlier this month.

“This is one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever had. I was really surprised to get the call and get this spot with CCC Team at the last moment,” Zoidl said. “In my last years in the WorldTour, I made some mistakes so I think if I move on from that, I can be successful again, whether that is in a team role or with some personal success.”

With the addition of Zoidl, CCC Team will ride into its inaugural season with 23 riders. The team includes seven riders from BMC Racing and five riders from CCC Sprandi Polkowice. The two teams merged following the closure of BMC Racing and CCC backers’ ambitions of joining the WorldTour.

The sudden departure of Denifl remains a mystery. The popular Austrian climber won a stage at the 2017 Vuelta a España, yet was left stranded without a contract for next season when Aqua Blue Sport folded late this summer. The team confirmed his arrival in late October.

Of the 16 Aqua Blue Sport riders, it appears three are still looking for contracts. Two others have decided to retire while the remainder have signed deals across the peloton at different levels.

Here is where other Aqua Blue Sport riders are headed in 2019:

Adam Blythe — Lotto-Soudal (WT)

Lasse Norman Hansen — Corendon-Circus (PCT)

Larry Warbasse — Ag2r-La Mondiale (WT)

Casper Pedersen — Sunweb (WT)

Eddie Dunbar — Team Sky (WT)

Shane Archbold and Aaron Gate — EvoPro Racing (CT)

Peter Konig — Bike Aid (CT)

Daniel Pearson — Canyon-Bloor Homes (CT)

Conor Dunne — Israel Cycling Academy (PCT)

Calvin Watson and Matt Brammeier retire

Michel Kreder, Andrew Fenn and Mark Christian appear to remain without a contract for 2019