Team Tinkoff sign Oscar Gatto for 2016

Italian to back Sagan in the Spring Classics

The Tinkoff-Saxo team, which will be known as Tinkoff Team in 2016, has added experienced Italian rider Oscar Gatto to its 2016 roster, boosting the team’s back up for world champion Peter Sagan.

Tinkoff Team confirmed that Gatto's signing finalises the Russian team’s roster of 27 riders for the 2016. The team will be known as Team Tinkoff in 2016 after being unable to agree to terms with second sponsor Saxo Bank for the season. Other new signings for 2016 include Britain’s Adam Blythe, Yuri Trofimov of Russia, plus neo-pros Erik Baška of Slovenia and Austria’s Michael Gogl.

The riders and staff will gather in Poreč, Croatia next week to plan and prepare for the 2016 season.

Gatto, 30, is a sprinter and Classics rider and won Dwars door Vlaanderen 2013. He is also remembered for winning stage 8 of the 2011 Giro d’Italia ahead of his new team leader Alberto Contador. Gatto raced with Sagan at Cannondale in 2014 before joining Androni Giocattoli fro the 2015 season.

He rode the Giro d’Italia with the Italian team but won two stages of the Sibiu Cycling Tour in Romania in July. He is based in Monaco and so will no doubt train with Sagan and ride a similar race programme with a focus on the Spring Classics.

"It is a great satisfaction to join the ranks of one of the world's top teams. Just by itself, this fact will motivate me to give my absolute best and when the opportunity was given to me, I couldn't refuse it. This move will also drive me to become a better rider because when you are in one of the best teams with some of the best riders in the world, you can only improve," Gatto said in an announcement from Tinkoff-Saxo.

"In such a team, you can develop both physically and mentally and I think that aspect was at times missing from me. In my opinion, I missed some opportunities to win in the past because I wasn't confident and I wasn't feeling sure about myself. Now, being a teammate of Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan, among others, I am sure there is ample room to improve."

Gatto said that his victory ahead of Contador in the Giro d’Italia stands out in his career.

"Crossing the line ahead of Alberto was for me a push that helped me climb one step up as a rider. It wasn't so much for the victory but for the fact that right behind me was Alberto, one of the world's best riders. He will now be my team leader, so life can have funny twists at times," he said.

Head directeur sportif Steven de Jongh suggested that Gatto can help Sagan in the Classics but also take his own chances.

"I am happy to have Oscar in the Tinkoff Team squad for next season. He will bring a wealth of experience to the team and will be primarily there to support Peter in the Classics. However, I think that in smaller races, Oscar could also take a leading role and try to claim his own wins," he said.

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