Dutchman steps back up to WorldTour level
Belkin Pro Cycling has announced the signing of Martijn Keizer from the Varanclassic-Dolticini continental team. The Dutchman could make his debut with his new squad at the Classic Sud Ardèche this weekend.
Keizer turned professional with Vacansoleil in 2011 but was left without a contract when the team disbanded at the end of last season. After initially contemplating retirement, the 25-year-old opted to continue for one more year at continental level, and signed for Veranclassic-Doltcini, who agreed that he could leave in the event that a WorldTour team wished to sign him.
“This is a great opportunity and super cool,” Keizer said, according to the Belkin team website. “After Vacansoleil-DCM folded, I thought about retiring. In the end, I decided to become an amateur and give my all for one year in order to return to the pro ranks. I didn’t expect to make it back this quick. I look forward to helping the team this year.”
Signing for Belkin marks a homecoming of sorts for Keizer, who spent four years of his amateur career racing for Rabobank Continental, its erstwhile development team. A solid rouleur, Keizer won Boucles de l’Aulne in 2011 and has completed four grand tours in his professional career to date – the Vuelta a España in 2011 and 2012, and the Giro d’Italia in 2012 and 2013.
“He will be a good help for our team leaders on the smaller mountains and, moreover, he will add to the team in team time trials with his time trial skills,” Belkin directeur sportif Nico Verhoerven said. “We operate as a team and that really suits Martijn.”
Verhoeven explained how the late signing of Keizer came about, pointing out that the team had only realised the need to add to its roster once the season began.
“It’s still fairly early in the season, but we already noticed that, due to our busy racing schedule, we could use another rider,” he said. “In Martijn we found a very strong rider who wanted to help us out. We already considered him last year, but back then we opted for others. Martijn fits well into our team and the way we operate.”