Co-owner and team captain of Christina Watches-Ofone, Michael Rasmussen has announced the arrival of three new riders for the coming year. Former Vuelta A España stage winner Constantino Zaballa joins the Danish team after a year riding alongside Stefan Schumacher at Miche-Guerciotti while Albanian Eugert Zhupa and Italian Daniel Aldegheri move from the amateur Trevigiani Dynamon Bottol squad.
The 2005 Clásica San Sebastián winner Zaballa turned professional in 2001 with Kelme-Costa Blanca before spending two seasons with Saunier Duval - Prodir and the 2006-2007 seasons with Caisse d'Epargne. Zaballa has ridden for smaller teams for the past four seasons, most recently winning a stage at this year's Vuelta a Asturias. Zaballa won a stage on the way to the overall victory at Asturias in 2011.
"We have big ambitions for next season and Zaballa will help to meet those ambitions. Zaballa has a stage win in the Vuelta A España and the Clásica San Sebastián making it one great asset to the team. Being able to attract a rider of his caliber, attests to the extent that we want to strengthen the team," said team manager Claus Hembo to Biciclismo.
22-year-olds Zhupa and Aldegheri are teammates at Trevigiani Dynamon Bottol and are also set to join the team co-owned by Rasmussen in 2013.
Aldegheri has spent the final part of the year as a stagiare for Liquigas-Cannondale where he rode the GP Industria e Commercio Artigianato Carnaghese, assisting Daniel Oss to third place while also riding the World Ports Classic.
Aldegheri has been a contender in the U23 ranks for the past two seasons with third-place finishes in stages 2 and 9 at the Girobio - Giro Ciclistico d'Italia - Baby Giro - in 2011. He came close to winning stage 5 at the 2.2-ranked Giro del Friuli Venezia Giulia but had to settle for second place when he was out-sprinted to the line by Davide Villella.
"Aldegherli lives close to both Furlan and me," said Rasmussen to Feltek.dk. "We have trained with him several times around Lake Garda, and he is really strong. Consequently, he was also a stagiare at Liquigas in the fall which screams quality."
Aldegheri and Zhupa come from the Trevigiani Dynamon Bottol squad which has shown its ability to develop riders for the professional ranks. Ignazio Moser, the cousin of Moreno Moser, previously announced his move to the BMC-Hincapie Development. Zhupa has also won the Albanian Elite road race and time trial championships for past two years.
"Eugert is more of a rider who can get down to work and maintain a high speed for a long time or sit in break a whole day. This year we have probably found that many riders who are strong and will be captains do not always work. We must have some, who are willing to work for the team," said Rasmussen.