AG2R-La Mondiale have announced it has signed a third rider from IAM Cycling, which folds at the end of 2016, with Sondre Holst Enger to join the squad on a two-year deal. The 22-year-old joins Oliver Naesen and Mathias Frank in making the move to the French WorldTour team. On Tuesday, AG2R-La Mondiale also announced a two-year contract extension for road captain Samuel Dumoulin.
Holst Enger has enjoyed his best season yet in the professional peloton with a stage win at the Tour of Croatia and top-five results at the Tour de France, Tour de Picardie, Tour of Norway and Circuit Cycliste Sarthe-Pays de la Loire.
"I am about to begin a new great adventure with AG2R-La Mondiale Pro Cycling Team. I am looking forward to start a new season in a squad with a real fighting spirit. The team roster was truly impressive during last Tour de France," Holst Enger said of the move. "I am 22 years old and AG2R-La Mondiale Pro Cycling Team is the best team for me to evolve in my career. The team’s approach about the Classics meets perfectly my ambitions."
AG2R-La Mondiale team manager Vincent Lavenu explained Holst Enger's debut Tour de France performance helped sealed the deal.
Last July, he rode his very first Tour de France and he was the youngest rider of the peloton. He almost won the Bern stage with panache (third place). He is a talented rider with amazing cycling abilities. Obviously, there is a room for improvement but, to me, he will become a future cycling champion," Lavenu said. "His personality is kind of unique in the peloton because he is also interesting in painting and music."
For Maes, the move to Lotto Soudal is his first change of teams since joining Etixx-Quick Step in 2010 from Topsport Vlaanderen. The 30-year-old will bolster the classics squad and can also be utilised for the sprint lead out train.
"I didn't want to change team just for the sake of it, but I had a good chat with Marc Sergeant which made me realize that his vision on cycling and that of the team are very similar to my vision," Maes said of the transfer. "Then it was an easy choice to make. I will be able to fully use my capacities in this team. Lotto Soudal has a strong U23 team and invests a lot in Belgian youth. There are a lot of talented youngsters in the team and I like working with young riders. I like passing on my experience, but I also want to support them during races. For all these reasons this is a good match."
Team manager Marc Sergeant added that he sees Maes as a versatile rider who can help propel the likes of Tiesj Benoot on the podium across the Classics.
"Nikolas is a very experienced rider, the past years he rode the Classics at the side of Tom Boonen. For the spring Classics we have young riders who can set results, just think of Tiesj Benoot and Jens Debusschere," Sergeant. "They can definitely benefit from having someone like Nikolas with them in the team, someone who can better judge if the right moment has come to attack thanks to his experience. Nikolas often goes training with Tiesj and I am sure he can temper Tiesj when he gets too eager."
"We are happy with the contract extensions of Albert and Tom as they belong to the core of the team and fit in well within our culture and structure," coach Rudi Kemna said the announcement. "They are reliable support riders, strong enough for an extensive race program and very valuable members in our process of teamwork. We are looking forward to their contributions over the next two seasons."
Dutch Pro-Continental squad Roompot Oranje Peloton has also added new riders to its 2017 roster, welcoming onboard Tim Ariesen (SEG Racing), Elmar Reinders (Cyclingteam Jo Piels), Martijn Budding (Rabobank Continental) and Oscar Riese Beek (Metec - TKH Continental Cyclingteam p/b Mantel).
Fellow Pro-Continental team Bardiani CSF have also announced the signing of young talent, welcoming onboard Vincenzo Albanese from the 2017 season.
"The signing is a big coup for our 2017 squad," said team manager Bruno Reverberi of the 19-year-old who recently took his first professional victory at the Trofeo Matteotti. "He showed to be a consistent rider so far, but we’re not really surprised. We have been following his growth for many years and we were just waiting for the right moment to offer him a contract. He has a great potential, but he needs to be supported and guided. Sometimes expectations could be a burden and an obstacle - our goal is to ensure him a step-by-step development."
For the gull guide to 201-17 rider transfers, click here