Belgian riders Stijn Steels and Bert Van Lerberghe will both make the step up to WorldTour level in 2020 after signing two-year contracts with Deceuninck-QuickStep. Steels joins the team from Roompot-Charles, while Van Lerberghe will make the move from Cofidis.
The 29-year-old Steels, whose uncle Tom is a directeur sportif at Deceuninck-QuickStep, has been a professional since 2013 and previously raced with some of his future teammates under the Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise banner.
“Even when I was a little kid I was cycling in the clothes of this team, so it is a dream that has now come true,” Steels said in a statement released by Deceuninck-QuickStep on Saturday.
“I will be joining Tim Declercq and Yves Lampaert, who are my best friends. We have known each other for 15 years, so it will be a lot of fun and it will be spectacular to be in the same team, as well as working with my uncle Tom Steels. Working with him will be the best thing that can happen to me, as we have a really close relationship.”
Van Lerberghe is another Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise alumnus and has spent the past two seasons at Cofidis. The 26-year-old has been a solid performer on the cobbles, placing 7th at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this year, and he will slot into Deceuninck-QuickStep’s sprint train in the service of Alvaro Hodeg and Fabio Jakobsen. Elia Viviani, Deceuninck-QuickStep’s lead sprinter this year, is expected to move to Cofidis for the 2020 campaign.
“I feel that I can improve a lot – last year wasn’t the best for me after having a virus during the Classics, but I now feel that I can push on and help the guys,” Van Lerberghe said. “I am a lead-out man and I know that I am joining a squad that has had and continues to have some of the best sprint trains in cycling and I am hoping that I can carry on improving and helping the guys.”
Deceuninck-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere welcomed the new arrivals and outlined the roles they might play on his team in 2020.
“Stijn is not that well-known yet, but he is a rider similar to Tim Declercq in that he can be a big help at World Tour level and hopefully now we can show what he is capable of. He is at the right age to come to us,” Lefevere said. “Bert is a little bit more of a lead-out rider and can be helpful for Fabio and Alvaro. He couldn’t express himself in the past and in coming to us his level can be higher than before. We are hoping for some good results with him and looking forward to him finding his place in the team.”
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