Julien Vermote will link up with Mark Cavendish once again next season after confirming that he will swap Quick-Step Floors for Dimension Data in 2018. The 28-year-old has been at Quick-Step since he turned professional in 2011.
Vermote was a part of Cavendish's sprint unit during the Manxman's three-year stint with Quick-Step and continued in the service of Marcel Kittel over the past two seasons. The Belgian was especially prominent at this year's Tour de France, where he performed much of the heavy lifting in chasing down breakaway attempts as Kittel sprinted to five stage victories.
"I am really happy to be joining Team Dimension Data. I must admit, it was a hard decision to leave Quick-Step. I was part of a family there and they gave me good opportunities but there comes a time in a rider's career when you have to take that next step, and that time is now for me," Vermote said in a statement released by his new team.
"I am happy that it was Team Dimension Data who showed so much interest in me and I felt that trust from them straightaway. I spoke to Mark and Rolf Aldag over the phone quite a lot and they really gave me the assurance that I was making the right decision."
Vermote explained that the prospect of increased freedom at the cobbled Classics was part of the attraction of signing for Dimension Data. Twice a stage winner at the Tour of Britain and winner of the Three Days of West Flanders in 2012, Vermote faced stiff competition to earn selection for the Classics at Quick-Step. He raced the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix for the first time this year.
"I look forward to having more opportunities with Team Dimension Data, particularly in the Spring Classics and being able to ride the final there," Vermote said. "I love the Flanders races, it is where I am from and I believe I can do well there. With the team wanting me for this role already, it gives me great confidence."
Vermote's arrival was welcomed by Dimension Data's head of performance Rolf Aldag, who worked with the Belgian during his time as Quick-Step's sport and development manager.
"By controlling breakaways and positioning the sprinters, Julien helped to win many races at his former team. Now he reached a point in his career where he wants to see how much more he can do with his talent," Aldag said. "He was born, lives and trains in the heart of Flanders. He has followed races like the Ronde van Vlaanderen since he was a child. These races have been on his wish list for a long time."
Vermote is the second 2018 signing to be confirmed by Dimension Data this week following the announcement that Louis Meintjes will re-join the team from UAE-Team Emirates at the end of the season.