Michael Schär has extended his contract with BMC Racing into an eighth season. The Swiss 29-year-old is the latest rider to confirm his stay with the American WorldTour team, with further riders expected to announce their re-signings before the Tour de France next week.
"I feel at home in BMC Racing Team. I have some really good friends in the team and after seven years now, I'm happy to continue this tradition. The loyalty and support is really special," said Schär.
Schär's extension follows that of Rohan Dennis, Greg van Avermaet and Samuel Sánchez in recent weeks.
"We'll be announcing a number of contract extensions over the coming days and weeks and I'm very happy to announce that Michael Schär is staying within the BMC Racing Team family," said team manager Jim Ochowicz. "Michael is one of the essential riders in the team. Whether it's in a one-day classic or a Grand Tour, he is always there to support our leaders, and when he gets the opportunity, ride for the victory himself.
"Every team needs a Michael Schär in their roster so it's a pleasure to announce the extension of his contract."
Schär, the 2013 Swiss national champion, joined BMC in 2010 from Astana and has become a key domestique across the season. He was part of BMC's Tour de France team time trial win last year and won a stage at the 2014 Tour of Utah with a late attack.
Etixx-Quick Step with options for Halle-Ingooigem
Tom Boonen leads the Etixx-QuickStep team at this week's Halle Ingooigem in a final tune-up before this weekend's Belgian national championships. The eight-rider team contains six Belgians with Colombian duo Rodrigo Contreras and Fernando Gaviria completing the line-up.
The 200.5km race starts in Halle and takes in several of the climbs better known from the spring classics such as the Kanarieberg, Kruisberg, Knokteberg and Tiegemberg. While the race is suited to the sprinters and has been won by French fastmen Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ) in recent years, Etixx-Quick Step will start the race with options for a large sprint finish and riders capable of shaking the race up for a reduced gallop.
Boonen is yet to win a race this season but was second in his last Belgian one-day race, Ronde van Limburg, and will be looking for a result. Gianni Meersman, third in 2011, adds a further option for a bunch kick finish.
Should the race be all together in the finale, Gaviria will be a favourite for the win with the neo-pro in sparking form so far this season.
Etixx-Quick Step for Halle-Ingooigem: Tom Boonen, Rodrigo Contreras Pinzon, Fernando Gaviria Rendon, Iljo Keisse, Nikolas Maes, Gianni Meersman, Pieter Serry and Stijn Vandenbergh.
Fortuneo Vital Concept confirm Périchon and Breen for Tour de France squad
Having previously announced Eduardo Sepúlveda, Chris-Anker Sorensen, Florian Vachon and Anthony Delaplace in its Tour de France team, French wildcard squad Fortuneo Vital Concept have confirmed two more starters for La Grande Boucle. Frenchman Pierre-Luc Périchon will make his second appearance at the Tour while Norwegian Vegard Breen will make his debut.
"The injury at Paris-Nice was a setback in his progression but we knew he could quickly return," said sports director Sébastien Hinault of Périchon. "After his victory, and the work in the Tour de Savoie, we have no doubt.
"This is a very good team player," Hinault added of Breen who made his Grand Tour debut at the 2014 Vuelta a España. "Several times this year he did a huge job for Dan McLay. At Route du Sud, he also showed that he could accompany the best in the mountains, he crossed the Tourmalet in the top positions. He will be further support for our leaders."
The final three places in Fortuneo Vital Concept will be decided after this weekend's national championships. Dan McLay is a reserve for his debut Tour with the team monitoring a leg injury and will decide on his place after the Great Britain national championships.
Pierre-Luc Périchon was the most aggressive rider on the 2015 Tour de France stage 14 to Lozere
Mid-season signings for Satalyst Verve Racing
Australian National Road Series (NRS) team Satalyst Verve Racing have added two new riders to its 2016 roster and brought onboard Luke Fetch as a new sports director.
Jordan Stannus, who was into his second season with An Post Chainreaction, has returned home to Australia. A recent injury saw the 20-year-old re-think his European career while the move also allows him to resume his studies.
"An-Post [Chainreaction] has provided me with an experience that I could have only gained whilst racing in Belgium and Europe," Stannus said in a team statement. "Over the last two years I have gained a wealth of knowledge and a different attitude towards racing which will hopefully put me in good stead whilst racing in Australia. After having spent 6 weeks off the bike, my goals and attitude towards Europe have shifted and I have decided to stay home in Australia."
Stannus will aim to make his debut at the Tour of the Great South Coast in August.
Rhys Gillett, 25, will also join the team having recovered from a training ride accident, in which he was hit by a car, and recent health issues.
"I'm excited to join Satalyst Verve Racing for the second half of 2016 after a promising start to the year. I'm looking forward to hitting the remainder of the NRS 100 per cent and believe that as a team we will be capable of delivering many great results," said Gillett, who rode with the African Wildlife Safaris Continental team in 2014.
Fetch, a former rider with the Avanti-IsoWhey Sports Continental team, was forced to retire due to injury in 2014 and will take up his first sports director role with the West Australian based team.
"I'm really excited to join Satalyst Verve for 2016. I believe the team is building good foundations following management restructure and moving forwards with a versatile squad for the remaining NRS races," said Fetch. "Having stopped racing in 2014 due to a bad shoulder injury I'm looking forward to being involved with the team and the passion is certainly still there. Being involved in a different capacity as sports director is an exciting opportunity and I'm looking forward to bringing the team together to achieve results that the guys are training hard for, as well as assisting development of younger riders in the squad."