Hagens Berman Axeon have solidified their roster for the 2021 season by confirming 13 riders, including seven new athletes from three countries on the U23 development squad.
Registered in the US, the team continue at UCI Continental level and concentrate on European races.
With precautions still in place due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to start the year, the team are looking to hold a training camp in Italy the first 10 days of March, rather than at the end of this month. This would then position the squad for their first planned competition at Dorpenomloop Rucphen in the Netherlands March 14.
A quintet of Americans added to the team are led by 19-year-old Lucas Bourgoyne, who won two stages at the 2019 Tour de l’Abitibi and took the points classification honours. Colby Lange has nine medals on the road and track, including a win as the 2017 US Junior criterium champion. He raced the last two seasons with Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling.
Both Simon Jones and Samuel Janisch raced last year with the Hincapie programme. The youngest member of the group is now Matthew Riccitello, 18, who was second in the US Junior ITT nationals in 2019 and the best young rider at the tour de l’Abitibi that same year.
Briton Joseph Laverick, who was eighth at the 2018 Junior TT Worlds, adds some firepower to the squad, as well as Portuguese talent Diogo Barbosa, who was in the top 20 on both road and TT disciplines at his national championships.
Among the six returning riders is 19-year-old Michael Garrison, the brother of Ian who now rides for Deceuninck-QuickStep. The younger Garrison won the GC of the 2019 Tour de l’Abitibi and was fourth at the 2019 Paris-Roubaix Juniors, also finishing 12th at Junior Worlds in the road race.
The team will switch from Pinarello Dogma F10 bikes to F12s, the same frames used by Ineos Grenadiers. All components will be provided by SRAM, one of the few sponsors to have supported Hagens Berman Axeon since the beginning in 2008, when they raced as Trek-Livestrong. Hagens Berman Axeon plan to unveil a new design for kits at their camp.
While title sponsorship will continue for a fifth year from Seattle law firm Hagens Berman, which took over as the top partner when the organization upgraded for two years at the Professional Continental (ProTeam) level, additional funding was needed for 2021 to happen. Partial funding was secured in November by team manager Axel Merckx to stabilise the programme.
"I needed 300,000 euros with my team for my budget for 2021 and have now found more or less half," Merckx told La Dernière Heure in November.
While the budget allows the team to continue basic operations and "not turn down races", Chad Childers, the team press officer, said this influx of support makes it easier to have everyone in Europe for camp and then begin the season.
"While the newly found funding from private partners has helped bridge the gap and put us into a position to have a good racing program, we are still actively pursuing sponsorship opportunities in hope of being able to operate at 100 per cent," Childers told Cyclingnews.
"A few years ago we were in Fayetteville, Arkansas for camp and headed to South America to start the season. That would not work this year, with the current coronavirus situation. With so few races last year, the team is hungry and ready to race."
Continuing as a proving ground for up-and-coming youngsters, five spots were vacated by riders moving up the ranks to ProTeam and WorldTour level. American Kevin Vermaerke signed with Team DSM for three years, Dane Jakob Egholm went to Trek-Segafredo and Andre Carvalho of Portugal headed to Cofidis. American Edward Anderson and Belgian Jens Reynders have graduated to Alpecin-Fenix and Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, respectively.
Other riders to have previously graduated showcased their talents on the WorldTour stage at the Giro d’Italia this past year, including overall champion Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers), João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quickstep), Will Barta (EF Education-Nippo), who was second in the final TT for CCC Team, and Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates), who landed on the podium twice in Italy including a third place at the opening TT.
2021 Hagens Berman Axeon roster
- Pedro Andrade (POR)
- Diogo Barbosa (POR)
- Lucas Bourgoyne (USA)
- Cole Davis (USA)
- Jarrid Drizners (AUS)
- Michael Garrison (USA)
- Liam Holowesko (BAH)
- Samuel Janisch (USA)
- Simon Jones (USA)
- Colby Lange (USA)
- Joseph Laverick (GBR)
- Sean Quinn (USA)
- Matthew Riccitello (USA)
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