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Circus-Wanty take on Koch, Hirt and Zimmermann from CCC

CCC Team’s Jonas Koch – pictured getting aero while representing Germany at the 2020 World Championships road race in Imola, Italy – will join Circus-Want Gobert for the 2021 season
CCC Team’s Jonas Koch – pictured getting aero while representing Germany at the 2020 World Championships road race in Imola, Italy – will join Circus-Want Gobert for the 2021 season (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Circus-Wanty Gobert have signed Jonas Koch, Jan Hirt and Georg Zimmermann from CCC Team for 2021, with the Belgian UCI ProTeam taking over the Czech squad's WorldTour licence next season.

CCC Team announced in May that it would lose its main sponsor at the end of 2020 due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the shoe retailer, and Circus-Wanty stepped in to purchase the team's operating company, Continuum Sports – and with it the WorldTour licence – in September, retaining CCC manager Jim Ochowicz to ease the transition into the sport's highest echelons.

"From the first discussions with Jim Ochowicz, we've been looking for the best complementarity between our teams, by trying to integrate as many riders from CCC Team as possible," Circus-Wanty general manager Jean-François Bourlart said on his team's website on Tuesday.

"Jan Hirt and Georg Zimmermann have a profile that was lacking in our team. They have the capabilities to finish well in mountain and stage races. Hirt has already proven this, and Zimmermann is a promising young rider.

"Their transfer, together with Jonas Koch, is very important. Koch is an experienced all-round rider, and will be an important element for the Classics and in the sprint train," he said.

Koch stepped up to the WorldTour with CCC Team in 2019, having spent the previous two years at ProTeam CCC Sprandi Polkowice.

"After four years with CCC, I'm ready for a new chapter in my career," he said. "I can't wait to get to know my new environment, but it's comforting to join Circus-Wanty Gobert together with my friend Georg, good teammate Jan and also some staff members.

"This will make my integration a little easier," added the 27-year-old German. "I already had some Belgian teammates, but I'm curious about the atmosphere of a Belgian team. The cycling culture there is so vibrant, so I'm eager to start the new season."

Czech climber Hirt only joined CCC Team from Astana at the start of this season.

"I'm very happy to receive the opportunity to join this growing project. This season was rather complicated," the 29-year-old admitted, "so I can't wait to be a part of this Belgian team, which is an established name in the cycling world. I'm looking forward to getting to know some new people, and I hope to be strong again next year, in order to achieve good results and help the team.

"The Grand Tours, no matter which ones, will be my big goal," Hirt continued. "I'm dreaming of a stage victory, and I'm pretty confident that I will succeed one day. You definitely need good legs, but also some luck. The year 2020 has been difficult for all teams, for all sports, for the whole population, so I'm crossing my fingers for a nice 2021."

Zimmermann was also a new recruit at CCC for 2020 – which was also his first year in the professional peloton.

"My first year as a pro was a rollercoaster," the 23-year-old German said. "I was very happy about my choice for Team CCC, and I was immediately strong at the start of the season. It was the beginning of a nice story, until the future of the team became uncertain.

"I'm convinced that I've found the perfect solution with Circus-Wanty Gobert. The team is very experienced at ProTeam level, and it has all it needs to step up to the World Tour," he said.

"My first goal is to integrate well in the team," Zimmermann continued. "I'm looking forward to getting to know the structure, and I hope to quickly find a good feeling in the races with my teammates. I want to show that I deserve the confidence of my new environment by performing well. And then we're off for two years, hopefully longer, with Circus-Wanty Gobert."

CCC Team's three star riders – Greg Van Avermaet, Matteo Trentin and Ilnur Zakarin – have already announced new teams for 2021, and will join AG2R Citroën, UAE Team Emirates and Gazprom-RusVelo, respectively.