Dylan Teuns has been handed the Bahrain-Merida leadership ahead of next week's Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. The 26-year-old only moved to the team in the off-season after spending four full seasons at BMC Racing. The Spanish race will mark Teuns' debut in his new team colours.
"Due to Vuelta being the first European race in 2019, we are really excited. It will be a multi-field test for our cyclist. In the 1st stage's ITT we are counting on Jan Tratnik, who debuts in the team. Another young debutant is a Belgian Dylan Teuns as GC leader," said the team's sports director, Vladimir Miholjević.
Bahrain-Merida have compiled a strong team for the five-day race with sprinter Sonny Colbrelli also making his season debut. He will be assisted by Kristijan Koren, Ivan Garcia Cortina, Hermann Pernsteiner, Tratnik, and Classics hopeful Matej Mohoric, who is gearing up for a season of cobbled classics action.
The Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana has a stellar line up this year with 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas making his season debut in the race. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott), Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), world champion and defending champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) are also on the start list.
Teuns will be looking to start the season well after a consistent 2018 season in which he picked up a number of impressive placings but failed to land a significant win. He was sixth overall in Paris-Nice, fifth in the Tour de Pologne and picked up four top-ten finishes in the Vuelta a España before ending his second with third in both the Giro dell-Emilia and Il Lombardia.
The Belgian's career purple patch came in the second half of 2017 when he won the overall at the Tour de Pologne, Tour de Wallonie, and the Arctic Race of Norway. He also finished third in Flèche Wallonne in 2017.
"Getting on the podium of La Flèche Wallonne was something very important, a really big step in my career. And that's where I realized I can do even better," Teuns told Cyclingnews in an interview conducted last December.
"I feel I made another improvement from 2017 to 2018, and I'm not that old, so I think there's still some room for progression."
The Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana kicks off with a 10.2km individual time trial on February 6, with the Queen stage coming on stage 4 with a 188km race between Vila-Real and Alcala-Alcocebre.