Dutch cyclo-cross rider Micki van Empel has confirmed a two-year deal with the Telenet-Fidea Cycling team that will see him race with the Belgian squad from next season.
A former mountain biker who switched to 'cross in 2008, Van Empel, 19, leaves Dutch team ZZPR.nl-Destil-Prolease-Merida and will continue his progression towards the elite ranks during his tenure with his new team. He demonstrated his obvious potential with victory at the Superprestige round in Ruddervoorde, Belgium earlier this season.
Fidea's investment in Van Empel is a clear signal of the team's efforts to improve their prospects of future success in the elite category of the sport. The Dutchman's contemporary in the Under-23 category, Belgian Tom Meeusen, has already rewarded Fidea's youth-oriented strategy with several strong performances, including second at the Belgian Elite national title race earlier this month.
While he will continue to compete on the Under-23 circuit for the time being, Van Empel will now form part of the same squad as Belgians Meeusen, Bart Wellens and Kevin Pauwels, as well as 2009/2010 World Cup Champion, Czech Zdenek Stybar.
Van Empel is currently in Tabor, Czech Republic where he is preparing to compete for the Netherlands in the Under-23 event at this weekend's World Cyclo-cross Championships.