Serge Pauwels is the latest rider to pen a deal with Jim Ochowicz’s CCC-sponsored team for the 2019 season. The news comes on the same day that the team confirmed they had retained the services of Alessandro De Marchi.
Pauwels also joins up with compatriots Greg Van Avermaet and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, who is another new addition to the squad. Pauwels leaves Dimension Data (previously MTN-Qhubeka) after four seasons with the South African squad. He had looked set to stay with the team but that changed when he received an offer from Ochowicz and says he’s looking forward to racing with Van Avermaet.
"I was not really looking to change teams. I had four great years with MTN Quebeka and Team Dimension Data and the Qhubeka charity will always have a place in my heart, but then this opportunity came along and I felt like I had to grab it," said Pauwels.
"I have only been teammates with Greg twice with the Belgian national team and of course, the most important one was the Rio Olympics where we were roommates so we both carry a really nice souvenir from that. Even though we have never raced on the same team we are good friends, so I'm excited to finally race together. Greg is not only a great rider because of his palmarès but also the way he races."
Pauwels is a good climber and is regularly seen in breakaways. Last season, he took his first general classification title when he won the Tour de Yorkshire after winning the final stage from a breakaway. He rode his fifth Tour de France this summer but was forced to abandon when he broke his elbow in a crash close to the finish of stage 16.
"Of course, it's early to talk about my objectives for 2019 but from my discussions with the team I think we will stick to a similar race program," said Pauwels. "Ihope to line up at the races that have been part of my program in the last few years, like the Tour de France, and remain the kind of rider that I am. I want to continue racing aggressively, the way I have been racing already with Team Dimension Data, and I'm looking forward to doing that with Continuum Sports."
General manager Ochowicz says that Pauwels will play a support role for Van Avermaet but will also get plenty of opportunities for his own success.
"Serge Pauwels is an excellent addition to the Continuum Sports roster in 2019. The classics will continue to be a big focus for us and Serge's experience at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia will be invaluable. Throughout his career, Serge has also demonstrated his versatility in stage races, including victory at the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire and third place this year behind Greg Van Avermaet, as well as Grand Tours, where he is often racing aggressively in breakaways as we saw at the Tour de France," Ochowicz said.
"We are excited to see what Serge can do when he joins us in 2019 and believe we can offer him a lot of opportunities to race for personal results, as well as playing a key teammate role alongside Van Avermaet."
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