Brent Bookwalter and Tsgabu Grmay will remain with Mitchelton-Scott in 2021 after signing one-year contract extensions with the Australian team. Both riders arrived at Mitchelton-Scott ahead of the 2019 season.
Bookwalter’s stand-out performance in 2020 was his fine 7th place finish at Strade Bianche, the first WorldTour race to be held after the season was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The 36-year-old also rode strongly to help Simon Yates to overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico, but his season was ended prematurely when he was forced to abandon the Giro d’Italia at the end of the opening week after sustaining a suspected lumbar vertebral fracture in a crash on stage 2.
Mitchelton-Scott later left the race en masse after four cases of coronavirus were confirmed among their staff on the first rest day. Team leader Simon Yates had already abandoned the race after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 after stage 7.
“All things considered with this crazy COVID-19 altered year there’s a lot of positives that I’ve been able to take from the season. It was another year settling in with the team; I feel more at home, more synced up with the team, coaching staff, performance staff and my teammates and I think that showed out on the road,” said Bookwalter, who listed his rides in support of Jack Haig at Ruta del Sol and Yates at Tirreno-Adriatico as highlights of the campaign, as well as his own 7th place at Strade Bianche.
“I think it was my best single-day result at a WorldTour one-day race and to do it off the back of the shut down so especially positive and important to me. Becoming a dad this year I was challenged at home and with training to figure out how I was going to put that together and to come out of the break with such a strong ride at Strade Bianchi was really encouraging and inspiring for the coming years.”
Bookwalter arrived at Mitchelton-Scott in 2019 after spending his entire professional career with BMC. He helped Cadel Evans to victory at the 2011 Tour de France and is now a part of Simon Yates’ guard at Mitchelton-Scott.
“For 2021, I just want to keep continuing where I left off this year, heal up this back injury that I finished the season with at the Giro and then get back to work, helping the team to realise their big goals of trying to win another Grand Tour and put wins on the board in general,” said Bookwalter.
Like Bookwalter, Grmay will return for a third year with Mitchelton-Scott in 2021. Now entering his 9th season as a professional, the Ethiopian has a wealth of experience after stints at MTN-Qhubeka, Lampre, Bahrain-Merida and Trek-Segafredo.
In 2020, Grmay helped Adam Yates – who leaves for Ineos in 2021 – to victory at the UAE Tour, while he completed the recent Vuelta a España.
“I am so happy to continue with the team again next year. I am comfortable in this team; it has a really amazing atmosphere with each rider and staff,” said Grmay.
“I am always excited for racing with my teammates and having a great time, that makes my job easier and makes me love my job. I am so lucky to be part of it again next year and looking forward and would like to thank the team for giving me the opportunity for the next year also.
“I will do my best to help the GC guys and to do whatever the team need me to do and put me to work for. I am really ready and I will work and fight so hard for it.”
Head sport director Matt White welcomed the contract extensions for two of his team’s most trusted domestiques. “Tsgabu is committed, he is a guy that you can see enjoys his role, he is a real team player and gives 110% every time he pins a number on,” said White, who described Bookwalter as “a valuable older statesmen for the younger, up-and-coming guys” and a rider who “still has ambitions to achieve things for himself.”
Mitchelton-Scott have lost Adam Yates to Ineos and Jack Haig to Bahrain-McLaren for the 2021 season, but their new signings include Michael Matthews, who arrives from Sunweb, and Tanel Kangert, who joins from EF Pro Cycling.
Simon Yates recently signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at the team until the end of the 2022 season, while Mikel Nieve, Esteban Chaves and Lucas Hamilton also remain at Mitchelton-Scott next year.
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