Peter Kennaugh has confirmed that he will race for Bora Hansgrohe in 2018 after signing a two-year deal with the German team. The move brings to a close Kennaugh's long association with Team Sky, having turned professional with the British team in 2010.
Kennaugh enjoyed several successful years at Team Sky, recently winning a stage at the Criterium du Dauphine, but with his Tour de France options becoming increasingly limited, and with the chance to enjoy a new experience, the 28-year-old felt that the time was right to move on.
"I wanted a change, some new motivation and a different experience. I felt that if I was honest with myself and didn't leave Team Sky in order to explore other areas then I would have looked back at my career and regretted it. I had to do it," Kennaugh told Cyclingnews.
"I've been with Team Sky since 2010 and over the last two contract negotiations I'd thought about it but never really seriously considered leaving but there were a couple of factors that decided it in the end."
Kennaugh turned pro during Team Sky's debut season in 2010 and was earmarked as a promising talent having risen through the junior and U23 ranks, securing a stage and third overall in the 2009 Baby Giro.
Twice a national road champion, Kennaugh has also been successful in week-long stage races at Team Sky but the chance to join Bora will give him more freedom and the opportunity to ride with the current world champion, Peter Sagan.
"Team Sky is the only professional team that I've been with and I've come from the Academy at British Cycling under Dave Brailsford and Rod Ellingworth, and I've known them since I was 15. So to go from that and to a team where I know maybe one or two riders is a big step. It's a bit daunting but that's the same in any walk of life when you start a new job. I'm sure that once we get into the new season it will feel like home."
A number of teams were interested in signing Kennaugh for 2018. Katusha-Alpecin were linked with him during the spring but Kennaugh dismissed that as just speculation. UAE Emirates were in the running but Bora showed the most intent to sign him, and that was one of the deciding factors in the move.
"I'd been in communication with them for a while and they had given me the support. That was a key factor. I spoke to a few other teams but Bora were really interested. They talked me through the team, and they showed me what they're about. It felt right," he said.
Leaving Team Sky for Bora will also give Kennaugh the chance to race under a different style of tactics. At Team Sky the emphasis is very much on GC and especially the Tour de France. Bora has more of a balance as they ride for Sagan in the sprints and one-day races and then switch to support Majka in stage races.
"I guess with the Tour going down to eight riders next year it's going to be hard to get into any team. Bora are a top team too so it's going to be a fight to make that squad too but that will just keep me on my toes. It's going to be great racing with guys like Peter and Rafal."
Kennaugh stressed that it was difficult decision to leave Sky, where he has made friends with riders and staff, and that while there is certainly no bitterness surrounding his departure, he needed a new challenge.
"At Sky sometimes it's more of a GC, conservative style of racing, and I've appreciated that but I'm going to team that has a different style. I don't think I was getting stale at Team Sky but a fresh way of doing things will just keep me fresh. Maybe part of me felt that I was getting too relaxed. It's exciting times."