The Dimension Data team are weighing up a move for Spaniard Igor Anton as they look to finalise their roster ahead of what will be their debut season at WorldTour level.
The South African team, known up to this point as MTN-Qhubeka, have made a string of signings - most notably Mark Cavendish - in recent months and received confirmation of their 2016 WorldTour licence towards the end of November. They currently have 26 riders under contract for next year, but Cyclingnews understands they are open to the possibility of bringing new recruits on board before the end of the year, with Anton being one rider under consideration.
The 32-year-old Spaniard, who spent most of his career with Euskaltel Euskadi squad until it folded in 2013, has spent the last two seasons with Movistar but was not offered a contract renewal.
Cyclingnews understands that Anton is on a longlist of potential recruits but that there have been no concrete negotiations at this stage. The team is not desperate to recruit and it may well be the case that they close the roster with the current crop of 26. A key consideration is said to be riders' objectives and desired programmes in what will be an Olympic year.
The arrival of Cavendish and his leadout men Mark Renshaw and Bernard Eisel, along with the surprise departure of Louis Meintjes, means that the balance in the team is set to shift further towards the sprints. Anton, however, would represent a decent bet for overall success in the stage races, with two top 10 GC finishes at the Vuelta a Espana to his name, along with stage wins at the Vuelta and Giro d’Italia. This year he won a stage and the overall at the Vuelta a Asturias but was unable to find his top level at the Giro.
"More was expected of me in a team where demands are high, and maybe I didn't fulfil those expectations. These last two years haven't been a disaster because I've helped the team, I've won again, but it hasn't been enough," said Anton in a recent interview with Ciclo 21, in which he also expressed his desire to stay in the WorldTour. "I have shown through my results that I have a lot to offer and that I can still have a place at the top level."
Dimension Data have made seven signings so far this year, with Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), Kanstantin Siutsou (Team Sky), Omar Fraile (Caja Rural), and Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) following Cavendish, Renshaw and Eisel. The team also brought Rolf Aldag and Roger Hammond on board as directeurs sportifs.