Rick Zabel joins Katusha for 2017
Rick Zabel is set to move to Katusha next season on a two-year contract, joining fellow German Tony Martin, who signed earlier this month. The jump to Katusha also brings him together with his father Erik Zabel, who works as a liaison with the team for their bike supplier Canyon.
At 22, Zabel is in his third season as a professional with the BMC Racing team. His step up to professional level came with much fanfare, as the son of Erik Zabel and the winner to the under-23 Tour of Flanders in 2013. The younger Zabel says that he is not concerned with the shadow that his father's career casts and looks forward to playing a role in Alexander Kristoff's lead-out train.
"For me, it is no problem that people look at me as 'the son of'. I am born as his son, and I am proud of him, just as he is proud of me. It is nice to be part of the family story," said Zabel. "Team Katusha is becoming a more and more international team, and with Tony Martin and Nils Politt I will have two other German riders around me. I look forward to being part of this team.
"Most of all I will be happy to have a place in a team focusing on the classics too. I want to play a very active role in the lead-out for Alexander Kristoff. It is nice to work for a big rider and learning from his experience. Of course, I dream of my own successes, but that's for later; I am still very young."
Stetina and Beppu extend with Trek-Segafredo
Both Peter Stetina and Fumiyuki Beppu have added a further two years to their contracts with the Trek-Segafredo team, ensuring their place in the set-up until the end of 2018. Stetina joined the American outfit from BMC this season, while Beppu has been an integral part of the roster since 2014.
The 2016 season has been Stetina's first full year since a potentially career-ending crash at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco last April. It has been a solid if unspectacular year for the 29-year-old, but he can take some positives from his progress.
"I will finish this year content, but not satisfied," he said. "If you had told me last year, while I struggled to walk, that I would recover my leg strength, show my potential in the California mountains, and race the Tour de France as a high mountain domestique, I would have taken that deal in a heartbeat. So in light of this, I think 2016 was successful. It was hard, and I pushed myself deeply to rehabilitate quickly.
"But I am still hungry; I missed that big result. I've already got an eye toward 2017, when I can have a normal winter training, and not play catch-up all spring but actually race in the front."
Anton frustrated about Vuelta a Espana abandon
Igor Anton (Dimension Data) says that he was left both frustrated and angry following his early departure from the Vuelta a Espana, saying that he believed he was in his best form. The Spaniard did not start Sunday's stage 9 after battling with illness for much of the first week.
"Above all, I feel a lot of anger and frustration because I had a very good level and for all the work that I did before. Since the Dauphine, I have only had one week of relaxation and June 20 was the start of my work and thinking about the Vuelta. I didn't know where I could finish, but I felt that this was the best moment of my year. I feel this impotence because it was uncontrollable misfortune."
Anton had been struggling with stomach problems, which left him with a fever, for several days before he decided to call it quits and had lost almost an hour on the leader's jersey. He explained that it would have been impossible to push on any further. Since returning home, he has begun to recover and said that he hopes to return to racing before the season ends.
"At the moment, I feel a little bit better, and I would like to finish the season with a good taste in the mouth," explained Anton. "It's obvious I won't be in the same scenario, but I hope to get back on the bike so that I can reflect all the work that I have done. I'm not looking for a better or worse result, just to finish the season in the best way possible."
Anton did not say where he would return to racing but indicated that Il Lombardia would potentially be on his calendar. He also hinted that a new contract with Dimension Data was close to completion, saying that he was not considering a move to another squad.
Tim Declercq signs with Etixx-QuickStep
Etixx-QuickStep has added the 27-year-old Belgian Tim Declercq to its line-up for the 2017 season, making him the seventh new signing since the transfer window opened. Declercq joins Philippe Gilbert and Dries Devenyns in the Belgian squad for next year.
Declercq has been riding for the Pro Continental Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise since 2012 and is a former under-23 national champion. He recently finished seventh in Schaal Sels, which was won by cyclo-cross world champion Wout Van Aert.
"I am very excited, this move is a dream come true," Declercq said in a team press release. "It's really great to sign a contract with Etixx-Quick-Step and know that from now on I will be part of this team and bring my services whenever people need me. I talked with Patrick Lefevere; I know what my role will be and I'm ready to give it my all and work really hard.
"It's an honour to ride for Etixx-Quick-Step, a team who loves the cobbles as much as I do and I am grateful for this opportunity. I also want to send my thanks to Topsport Vlaanderen for being by my side during my first pro years, as this meant a lot for me."