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Julien Vermote signs for Alpecin-Fenix

Julien Vermote (Image credit: Olivier Courtens / @julien_vermote)

After spending the first three months of the year without a team, Julien Vermote will soon be back in the pro peloton after signing a contract with Alpecin-Fenix

The 31-year-old Belgian found himself unemployed at the end of 2020, his contract with Cofidis having expired and with no offers from any other teams. 

He continued to train as normal over the winter, even travelling to Spain for two separate solo and self-funded training camps, and refused to contemplate retirement. 

The start of the season came and went but Vermote's patience has now been rewarded with a move to the Belgian team led by Mathieu van der Poel. 

"I am glad that I can finally get back to work. It took a long time, but I always had high hopes," Vermote told Belgian broadcaster Sporza.

"Of course I will miss some race kilometres in the beginning, but I remain very ambitious and want to continue to prove myself in the peloton. And Alpecin-Fenix is also an ambitious team. A perfect match."

Vermote, who rode for Deceuninck-QuickStep and Qhubeka Assos before joining Cofidis in 2020, had contact with Alpecin-Fenix late last year but nothing concrete materialised. Now, however, the team are clearly looking for added resources for the rest of the campaign. 

The team run by the Roodhooft brothers operates at second-division level, but have automatic invites to all WorldTour races in 2021 thanks to their topping the ProTeam rankings last season. 

The team are set to ride all three Grand Tours this year, but Vermote, who has ridden the Tour de France four times and the Giro d'Italia three times, is as yet unsure where exactly he fits into the equation.

"I do have some experience in races like that but I can't tell yet what my program will really look like. It's all still a bit fresh," Vermote said.

"I ride where they select me. I am eager and ready for the service."