British talent Ethan Vernon is set to join Deceuninck-QuickStep in 2022, team manager Patrick Lefevere has revealed.
Saturday's Il Lombardia marks the end of the season for the Belgian team, and they're already looking ahead, with a first team gathering ahead of the 2022 season taking place in Belgium from Monday.
There will be a party as well as photo shoots and preliminary meetings over three days, attended by all the riders on next year's roster.
Although not yet formally announced, Lefevere revealed a new signing who will be present. Vernon, who placed seventh in the U23 time trial at the recent World Championships, is set to turn professional at the age of 21.
He has a track background, representing Britain in the team pursuit at the Tokyo Olympics, as well as a fast finish, evidenced by his stage victory on a downhill finish at this year's Tour de l'Avenir.
Vernon's arrival, Lefevere said, takes the team's 2022 roster to 29 riders, meaning there is one place still left open. That appears to be reserved for Mark Cavendish, who has resurrected his career since rejoining the team at the start of the year.
Lefevere had previously used his column to accuse Cavendish of trying to 'cash in' after his four stage wins at the Tour de France, but it seems the pair have now come to an understanding. The deal is not yet done, with Cavendish seeking assurances of a role in the team once he stops racing, but it looks all-but certain he'll be racing again in blue next year.
"Mark Cavendish will definitely be there on Monday as well. Everything is not contractually finalized yet, but I hope to finalize that next week," Lefevere said.
"The discussion is still the same for the time being: what role can Mark play for our team after his career and how can we reward him for that?
"His win last Sunday in the Munsterland Giro has fallen a bit between the cracks because of Paris-Roubaix, but it says a lot about the motivation he still has at the end of the season. Mark is over the moon about working with our coach Vasilis Anastopoulos. 'Had I met him 10 years earlier, my record could have been even better', he says. I answered: 'Mark, 10 years ago you would never have listened to Vasilis."
As well as Vernon, the team have signed Louis Vervaeke from Alpecin-Fenix and handed a neo-professional contract to 18-year-old Slovakian Martin Svrcek, who'll join the team from July. The team are saying goodbye to sprinter Sam Bennett and his lead-out man Shane Archbold, who are moving to Bora-Hansgrohe, while Joao Almeida and Alvaro Hodeg are heading to UAE Team Emirates.
Elsewhere, the transfer window has been about consolidation for Lefevere, who has handed out a number of contract extensions to existing riders. The key assets he has tied down to long-term deals are Julian Alaphilippe, Remco Evenepoel, and Kasper Asgreen.
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