Roman Kreuziger moves to Gazprom-RusVelo and Mitchelton-Scott retains its strong link to New Zealand by giving its four Kiwis contract extensions — those are the latest moves in a flurry of team signings going into 2021.
The 34-year-old Kreuziger will move from NTT Pro Cycling to Gazprom-RusVelo on a one-year deal. The Czech veteran has raced 18 grand tours and will play a road captain role for the team that also sees the arrival of Ilnur Zakarin as the team stays at the second-tier ProTeam level for 2021.
“At this moment, there are many very solid riders on the market, that’s why I really appreciate being given a place in the team,” Kreuziger said. “I am set to share my experience with the young riders and help Ilnur Zakarin to fight for the GC. I hope that we will receive an invitation to Giro d’Italia next season, because we can definitely be competitive there. From my side, I also hope to participate in one-day races, especially my favorite Ardennes classics. Another big goal for me for the next year is the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“Someone might probably think that I am quite old because I have been in professional cycling for such a long time, but let’s look at Valverde who is in great shape in his 40s,” Kreuziger said. “So, I would say that I am only 34 and feel good and very ambitious to race for more seasons. I will do my best to achieve more victories together with my new team Gazprom-RusVelo.”
Mitchelton-Scott keeps its Kiwi connection in-house
Australian-registered Mitchelton-Scott retains its strong links to New Zealand after handing its four Kiwi riders extensions with the team for 2021.
Dion Smith, Sam Bewley, and Jack Bauer all signed two-year contract extensions with the men’s team, while New Zealand champion Georgia Williams will race in 2021 with the women’s team.
“Georgia has had some tough luck with illness but if she can stay healthy over winter and put in a really good base, she is a rider who is a strong support for our climbing group, but also has qualities that mean she can take her own chances when the opportunity occurs too,” said team manager Martin Westby. “We’re aiming for a full season with no health interruptions and I think we will then see her step up to the level she has been able to show us from time to time.”
On the men’s team, Bauer’s experience and steady hand are rewarded with a two-year contract extension.
“Jack is really reliable, very loyal, and has been a great addition to the team in the past three years. He is a great character and a guy you want in the team, you want some older statesmen in your team who lead by example and Jack is one of those guys,” said sport director Matt White. “Guys like Jack are underrated in certain teams, but certainly not in this one. We appreciate them because at the end of the day they might not be the ones winning races but they’re big cogs in the success of this team because of their commitment to our plan and our leaders.”
Bewley, 33, is one of the original founding team members of the GreenEdge organization that entered the WorldTour a decade ago.
“It’s hard to believe next year is 10 years of this organization and that I have been here for all that time,” Bewley said. “On this team, you can be yourself, you can be open and honest which are the pillars of a successful culture. I have always loved being part of that and am very excited to remain a part of it.
“I don’t think you ever stop developing or learning,” he said. “This team has had some great success but we will continue to push the goalposts out as we tick those things off. I want to continue to improve, adapt and learn these next two seasons. I have a passion for helping the younger guys and I hope to be able to help teach them things while I still continue to learn myself. And of course, I want to be part of winning the world’s biggest bike races.”
Stepping up to the WorldTour in 2019, Smith saw a breakthrough in 2020 with sixth at Milano-Sanremo and his first victory as a professional at Coppa Sabatini.
“We had seen consistency in Dion before he joined the team, that’s why we wanted him, and I think we saw some great results this year, in a very reduced calendar, with Milano-Sanremo and his first win in Europe,” White said. “Not everyone develops at the same speed, but he is developing and the main thing is that he is getting better and better and we expect that to increase over the next couple of years and it’s exciting times to see how far that development can go.”