Stefan Denifl is the latest Aqua Blue Sport rider to find a new home for the 2019 season after CCC announced the signing of the Austrian. Denifl is the 23rd rider to sign for the CCC Team (formerly BMC Racing) and joins the influx of new riders, which includes Laurens ten Dam, Simon Geschke, Serge Pauwels, and Jakub Marezcko.
Denifl was unexpectedly left without a ride for next season when the Aqua Blue Sport team folded suddenly in August. The 31-year-old had been one of the team’s most successful riders in their debut season with a stage win at the 2017 Vuelta a España and overall success at the Tour of Austria.
This season has been much more challenging as Denifl missed much of the early part of the season before a training accident in July left him with a concussion and ruled him out of the defence of his Austria title. The move to CCC brings him back to the WorldTour for the first time in two years and he hopes to put the injury-riddled season behind him.
"The end of Aqua Blue Sport was a big blow for all of us. I was under contract until the end of 2019 so I wasn't talking to any teams," said Denifl. "The rider market that late in the season is always complicated so I am very happy to sign with CCC Team. When looking at the teams with openings, it was clear that CCC Team was my first choice. It is an international squad with strong riders, good staff and a solid structure in place, as well as an impressive new sponsor on board, and top material. There is not much more you can wish for as a rider," Denifl explained.
"I want to get back to my 2017 level where I was able to win a race here and there. Besides that, I am looking forward to racing as a team and making our fans and sponsors proud. Although my race program isn't yet determined, the Giro d'Italia would be really cool and it is my dream to race the Tour de France one day. Racing at the WorldTour level means there are so many good racing opportunities so I am excited to return to this level."
As well as his Vuelta and Tour of Austria success, Denifl has previously finished in the top 10 at Paris-Nice and taken the mountains classification at the Tour de Suisse. The team hopes he will boost their line-up in stage races and the hilly Classics.
"Stefan Denifl is a great addition to CCC Team so it is a pleasure to welcome him to the team in 2019. Stefan had a breakthrough year in 2017 with a stage win at the Vuelta a España and overall win at the Tour of Austria and we believe he can reach his potential with CCC Team. Stefan has shown that he is capable of winning races and will be a valuable teammate at stage races and Grand Tours," said general manager Jim Ochowicz.
"Stefan brings a wealth of experience to the team and will be an asset at the Ardennes classics and the hillier Monuments, Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia. We are looking forward to seeing what Stefan can do next year and we are excited to welcome the first rider from Austria, which is a key market for CCC, to the team."