The reigning Eritrean time trial champion, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, and young riders Antonio Tiberi and Mattias Skjelmose Jensen, have all signed two-year contracts to join US WorldTour squad Trek-Segafredo from next year.
Twenty-six-year-old Ghebreigzabhier has already spent the past three seasons riding at WorldTour level with NTT Pro Cycling, and its previous guise as Dimension Data. While that team's future remains up in the air, for Trek-Segafredo manager Luca Guercilena, Ghebreigzabhier's potential is obvious.
"Amanuel is already an established rider, but we believe he has plenty of room for improvement," Guercilena said in a team press release on Wednesday. "His profile was what we were looking for – a solid and still-young climber to invest in."
Ghebreigzabhier was the Eritrean road race champion back in 2014, and went on to win the African Continental Championships road race in 2018, before taking his national time trial title last season.
"We see great potential in Amanuel, and hope that by working together we can help him fulfil that potential. He will be a valuable asset to the team, especially to support our leaders in the mountains during stage races," Guercilena said.
"For me, it will be a great opportunity for growth that I intend to make the most of," Ghebreigzabhier said. "Since I turned professional in 2018, I've had the opportunity to gain significant experience in stage races. My first goal is to improve further in these endurance races, especially in the Grand Tours."
Ghebreigzabhier already has four Grand Tours under his belt, having ridden the Giro d'Italia in 2019 and this year – which included ninth on stage 17 to Madonna di Campiglio – and the Vuelta a España in both 2018 and 2019.
"The idea of racing with champions like Vincenzo Nibali, for example, makes me excited. I really can't wait to meet my new team," he said.
Tiberi won the junior time trial title at the World Championships in Harrogate, in the UK, at the end of 2019, while the USA's Quinn Simmons won the junior road race, with both riders being identified and picked up as future stars for Trek-Segafredo. And while Simmons joined the team as soon as this season – although he's had a turbulent first year in the WorldTour – it was decided that Tiberi should ride a season at under-23 level with Team Colpack Ballan.
The 19-year-old took a solo victory at the Trofeo Città di San Vendemiano in September, and got some experience in racing at the kind of level he can expect in 2021 and beyond as a stagiaire for Trek-Segafredo at the Brabantse Pijl last month.
"I have dedicated the 2020 season to preparing myself for the final passage into the professional world and I definitely feel ready," Tiberi said. "Passing from junior races to the professionals was like a slap – painful but extremely useful. From there, I worked to grow and improve, thanks also to the advice I got from the team.
"The debut as a stagiaire at the Brabantse Pijl was hugely emotional," he continued. "The guys gave me a warm welcome and I felt an incredible group strength. The race was tough – almost a second slap – because racing a semi-Classic in Belgium is a demanding experience.
"I'm ambitious, but this year I realised that to reach the goal I have in mind, I need to keep my feet on the ground and to learn, but I'm happy to know that I'll have some good examples to refer to," Tiberi said.
Like Tiberi, Skjelmose Jensen got a taste of what's yet to come when he also rode the Brabantse Pijl as a stagiaire for Trek-Segafredo in October, as well as having raced the Antwerp Port Epic, the Memorial Pantani and the Trofeo Matteotti for the team in the previous two months.
The 20-year-old Dane will join from the Continental-level Leopard Pro Cycling squad, but has already begun to feel at home in the company of his future teammates.
"I met the team last December in Sicily, and already there I got a great feeling about the team, where everyone jokes together, as well as supporting each other. That was really important for me," he said.
"As a stagiaire, I rode for the team in Italy and Belgium, and I could feel that the whole team was very supportive about the whole process. It makes it much easier to perform when all you have to do is focus on the race. For me, that's a game-changer, and with this team, I believe I will be able to race to the best of my best ability," Skjelmose Jensen said.
"The official passage to professionalism of Tiberi and Skjelmose Jensen is the conclusion of a growth process started together over a year ago," added Guercilena. "We believed in their talent, we followed them this season and we are ready to see them blossom among the pros.
"They will find an ideal environment to grow without feeling the pressure of having to prove anything. They will ride with successful riders from whom they can learn, and our goal for 2021 is to see them grow race after race," he said.
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