Bahrain-Merida sign Gorka Izagirre and Matej Mohorič
Izagirre joins brother Ion at the team, moving across from Movistar. It will be the third time in their careers that the Izagirre brothers will ride on the same WorldTour team after Movistar and Euskaltel Euskadi.
"I'm very happy with the new team for my next season. I think I will be an important part of it. I’m excited to join my new teammates and start to get to know them," Izagirre said.
Izagirre was sitting second overall at the Tour Down Under only to fall out out of GC contention after a crash. He rebounded with fourth overall at Paris-Nice, Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta victory, and a stage win at the Giro d'Italia.
"I see Gorka doing great things at Bahrain-Merida, he is a rider that belongs in this team together with his brother Ion," team manager Brent Copeland said. "He represents everything that we look for in a Bahrain-Merida rider, consistency, hard worker with clear ideas of where he wants to go and last but not least a great team rider. We are sure our fans and team mates are very much looking forward to him starting. We would like to thank him for joining our team and give him a big welcome.”
At 22, Mohorič is still one of the young riders in the WorldTour peloton. The Slovenian will re link up again with Copeland after spending the 2016 season together with the Lampre set-up. Mohorič previously rode with Cannondale, Cannondale-Garmin, Lampre prior to 2017 with UAE Team Emirates.
"I have a feeling that Bahrain-Merida believes in me as a rider and that they could help me make a step up, to grow and develop even further," Mohorič said. "I am still only 22 years old and have winning ambitions in the future. It is a great motivation for me to go to one of the best teams in the world. I look forward to a good preparation for 2018 and a year where I will give my best in cycling."
For Copeland, Mohorič represents a rider full of potential and is excited to be working again with the former junior and U23 world champion.
"I have personally worked together with Matej in the past and know that he is one of the most intelligent riders in the group, we believe Matej has a vast amount of margin for improvement and has yet to show us what his true potential is, he is a rider whom we believe has been investing the first few years as a pro in learning and is now ready to show the world of cycling what his true capabilities are, we are sure Matej will find a solid and professional group of team mates and staff members at Bahrain-Merida which will help him develop into the true talent that we all know he has, we welcome him and all look forward to supporting him with all his needs to help him achieve his goals," said Copeland.
Direct Energie snap up Rein Taaramäe and Jérôme Cousin
Taaramäe, 30, turned professional with Cofidis in 2008 with a stage win at the 2011 Vuelta a highlight with the French team. He then moved to Astana for the 2015 season, the last year he's ridden the Tour de France, before moving onto Katusha.
Signing for Direct Energie represents his return to his French racing roots with Taaramäe likely to be given GC leadership roles for the team's biggest races. During his career, Taaramäe has won the overall titles at the Tour de l'Ain, Vuelta a Burgos, Arctic Race of Norway and Tour de Slovenie. He was also 11th overall at the 2011 Tour.
"We are honored by Rein's confidence in us. His sporting and human expectations are in line with our project and our values," team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau explained. "Rein will find within the Direct Energie team the family environment and the culture of the performance he needs. He will be a reinforcement of choice for Lilian Calmejane."
After two years with Cofidis, Cousin returns to the Direct Energie set up he first joined as a stagiaire in 2010. Cousin also spent time with the team's feeder squad, Vendée U, and is a welcome return to Bernaudeau's squad.
Brenton Jones joins Delko Marseille Provence KTM
Australian Brenton Jones will rejoin the Pro-Continental ranks in 2018 with Delko Marseille Provence KTM. Jones, 25, rode with Drapac in 2015 and 2016 before stepping down to Continental level with JLT when Condor Drapac merged with the WorldTour Cannondale team.
A sprinter, Jones has been successful in Asia with stage wins at the tours of Taiwan, Japan, Hainan and Korea. He has also tasted success racing the British scene this season with JLT Condor and was previously successful in Australia at the NRS level with the Avanti/Genesys squad.
"We are very pleased to welcome Brenton Jones. His evolution, this year with the Team JLT-Condor, from John Herety, has allowed him to develop his pure sprinter qualities. He has the good combination of youth and experience," said team manager Frédéric Rostaing.
With Delko Marseille Provence KTM, Jones will greater opportunity to race in Europe and contest WorldTour events. A fact that helped seal the deal as Jones explained.
"I am really looking forward to the opportunity to race for Delko Marseille Provence KTM in 2018. I am super motivated for the year ahead and hope to bring the team success," said Jones. "With an exciting race calendar and a long history in the sport, the team is a good fit for me and I’m thrilled to return to the Pro-Continental ranks."
The team has also signed Julien Trarieux from AVC Aix, and extended the contracts of Delio Fernández Cruz, Mauro Finetto.
Team Fortuneo Oscaro and Feillu extend
French Pro-Continental squad Fortuneo Oscaro has confirmed a two-year contact extension with Tour de France stage winner Brice Feillu. The Frenchman has been with the team since the 2014 season when he joined from Sojasun.
Feillu, 32, rode to 16th overall at the Tour de France in July, matching his 16th from 2014, and will become an important domestique for Warren Barguil over the next two years.