American Chris Butler (SmartStop) revealed to Cyclingnews this week that he has signed with the Cycling Academy team for 2016. The Israeli Continental team also announced Saturday on Twitter that it has signed two-time Mexican national road champion Luis Lemus (Airgas-Safeway) to the 2016 roster.
Butler and Lemus are the third and fourth North American riders that the team has brought on board for next year. Former Cannondale and Optum Pro Cycling rider Guillaume Boivin of Canada will also join Max Korus from Champion System-Stans No Tubes on Cycling Academy next year.
The team debuted in 2015, taking stage wins at the Tour d’Azerbaidjan and the Tour of Berlin, among others, and is bolstering its 2016 hopes by adding the former WorldTour riders like Butler, Boivin and Dan Craven from Europcar. The first-ever Israeli pro team, which also competed in the USA Pro Challenge last year, has announced ambitions to step up to the Pro Continental level in 2017 and to make a Grand Tour debut in 2018. The team announced earlier this month that it has brought on former pro Niki Sorenson as team director.
Butler, 27, raced for Team SmartStop this season after spending 2014 with Hincapie, two years with Champion-System and two seasons with BMC. Butler started his 2015 season with a third-place finish at the Vuelta Dominican Republic and was ninth in the US pro road race in June. He finished the season at the Tour of Utah, where he finished 20th overall.
Lemus, 24, raced with Airgas-Safeway this season after three years with Jelly Belly-Maxxis. Lemus raced against the Cycling Academy team this year at the Tour d’Azerbaïdjan. He ended his season with Airgas at the Tour of Utah.
Chris Butler (SmartStop) leads the charge for teammate Rob Britton at this year's Tour of the Gila. (Jonathan Devich