After two years with Mitchelton-Scott, Roman Kreuziger will move to Dimension Data, and according to the Czech rider, it was Rolf Aldag and the chance of taking more opportunities for himself that convinced him to join the African team.
Kreuziger's stint at Mitchelton was by no means a failure: he was a consistent performer in Grand Tours as a support rider, and he rode strongly in the Ardennes Classics, finishing in the top 10 in all three races this season. However, with age a factor, and the re-signing of the Yates brothers at Mitchelton using up high percentage of the team's budget, Kreuziger needed to look for a fresh challenge.
"I had a great stay with the team, and it really is a great team but in the end, with the re-signing of both the Yates brothers, there wasn't the budget," Kreuziger told Cyclingnews at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal. "I'm leaving here with many friends, who I'll still see on the road, but I'm ready for a new challenge and a new start."
Dimension Data have made a number of strong plays in the transfer market for 2019. Along with Kreuziger they have signed Michael Valgren and Enrico Gasparotto. The trio of new signings all made the podium at Amstel Gold Race this season, and although Gasparotto is 36, he remains a dependable performer, who will add vital experience to a team that has lacked cohesion and consistency in 2018. Valgren is very much a rider for the future, but Kreuziger can still perform at the highest level.
"With Dimension Data I think I'll have more space on the team. They have O'Connor and Meintjes for the GC races but at the same time it's going to be fun to race again with Valgren and Gasparotto. I know them pretty well," said Kreuziger, who rode with Valgren at Tinkoff and Gasparotto at Astana.
"My agent talked to Dimension Data around the Tour. There were some other teams but in the end, I still think I could some races for me. Rolf Aldag at Dimension Data was the guy who came to me and said he wanted me to come here and fight for podiums. That's why I came here.
"I'm not a guy who likes to change every two years but not all of us can carry on riding until they're forty. I had to look to the future and the fact that at home I have a family."
In the last few years, Kreuziger has ridden Grand Tours in the service of others. Meintjes, despite his problems in 2018, remains the team's most likely Grand Tour rider, but Kreuziger's experience in grinding out top-10 results over three weeks cannot be ignored. And on a team that have historically struggled for WorldTour points, his consistency will be much needed.
"I think I can be around top 10. If Meintjes or someone else is going well then I'll be there for them but I might also have my chances in Grand Tours," Kreuziger said.
Yet the Classics remain a central focus for the 2013 Amstel Gold Race winner. Kreuziger does not believe that Dimension Data have gone too far in their Ardennes recruitmnent and that their strength in depth will only be an advantage.
"We've also got a really strong team for the Classics. I knew coming here that they were going to sign the others. I'm happy with it, and I don't think it means we'll have competition at the team because if you look at the Flemish Classics, and a team like QuickStep they have the numbers and that's an advantage. In the Ardennes the racing is different but it's always good to have more guys at the top level."
Kreuziger's 2018 campaign does not end in Canada. He will race the World Championships in Austria later this month before closing out the final pages of his Mitchelton chapter at a handful of Italian one-day races. His time on the Australian team is almost at a close, but there's still something left in the tank.
"I have the Worlds in a couple of weeks, and then I have a couple of the Italian races. It's better to keep going at this point but since the Ardennes I've wanted to focus on the Worlds and these races here are perfect to get ready," he said. "At the Vuelta, we saw that it was a very hot start and then the last few days are going to be really tough. For me, I prefer to have the intensity of racing and the changes of pace."