US development team Aevolo has revealed its 2018 roster, with the Continental team growing from 10 riders during its inaugural season in 2017 to 12 riders next year.
The team previously announced the five new riders who will joining seven returning riders to make up the roster of the second-year squad. New riders Kendrick Boots, Alex Hoen, Fernando Islas, Denzel Stephenson and Nick McKey will join forces with returning riders Laurent Gervais, Lance Haidet, Gage Hecht, Michael Hernandez, Jason Saltzman, Tyler Stites and Luis Villalobos.
Zeke Mostov, who rode with the team in 2017, signed with Axeon Hagens Berman for next year, while Jack Burke, the best young rider at the season-ending Tour of Alberta, aged out of the U23 team along with Jokin Etxabe.
"With Jack, Jokin and Zeke moving on, we had to bring in five new riders," said Aevolo Team Director Mike Creed. "Alex Hoehn and Fernando Islas will bolster our time trial strength, something we lacked a little of in 2017. Denzel Stephenson is going to add to our bread-and-butter strength as a team; he's strong, quick and aggressive."
Boots, at 17, is still a junior and won't be eligible for UCI races with the team, but Creed plans to put him in USA Cycling Pro Road Tour events like the Redlands Bicycle Classic.
"We hope to help build his fitness level, give him a chance to show off his time trial skills and build towards the junior Worlds time trial in a stress-free environment," Creed said.
McKey got Creed's attention at this year's US junior nationals, where, the director said, he was the most relaxed, intuitive and well-rounded rider.
"I think other teams made a big mistake by not approaching Nick, and their loss is our gain," Creed said.
Among the returning riders, Hecht took a stage win at Redlands and a close second in the road race at this year's US U23 championships. Villalobos won the best young rider competition at Cascade Cycling Classic, while Hernandez was fourth on stage 2 at the Tour of Alberta. Haidet is the US U23 cyclo-cross champion, while Saltzman, Stites and Gervais round out a tough, cohesive squad.
"I think the edition of Alex and Kenny really improves our team," Hernandez said. "Alex really showed his strength all last year in a variety of different races. Kenny will still be a junior next year so it will be interesting to see how he adapts to racing the Pro Road Tour races. Being junior national time trial champion shows he's plenty strong.
"I've never met the three other signings personally, but by reputation I have no doubt they will bring the right attitude to mesh and enhance with our program."
2018 Aevolo roster: Kenny Boots (USA), Laurent Gervais (Can), Lance Haidet (USA), Gage Hecht (USA), Michael Hernandez (USA), Alex Hoehn (USA), Fernando Islas (Mex), Denzel Stephenson (USA), Nick McKey (USA), Jason Saltzman (USA), Tyler Stites (USA), Luis Villalobos (Mex).