Orica-BikeExchange has announced the signing of Roman Kreuziger for the 2017 season. Kreuziger, who has signed a two-year deal, has been brought on board to boost the team’s Grand Tour potential, a decision that that directeur sportif Matt White has called 'game-changing'.
Kreuziger will join from the Tinkoff Team, which is set to fold at the end of the season. The Czech rider finished 10th at last month's Tour de France after his team leader Alberto Contador was forced to abandon at the end of the first week.
"Orica-BikeExchange was an easy choice for me when I started to consider my next team and my future as a rider," Kreuziger said. "I really admire the ambitions they have going onwards, and I want to fully apply myself to help their young riders go for the ultimate success in the Grand Tours."
The Orica team has been increasingly focused on its Grand Tour prospects thanks to the development of Esteban Chaves, and Adam and Simon Yates. Last season saw a big shuffle in their roster as they brought in the likes of Ruben Plaza and Amets Txurruka to work in the mountains in place of their stage-hunters such as Simon Clarke. The shift in emphasis was successful with Chaves claiming second overall at the Giro d'Italia, while Adam Yates rode to fourth at the Tour de France.
That focus is becoming sharper with the departure of Michael Matthews expected at the end of the season. Kreuziger joins Spanish climber Carlos Verona, who is due to make a mid-season transfer from Etixx-QuickStep to the Australian team.
"Roman is a real game-changing signing for us," White said. "He is not only one of the classiest and strongest riders at WorldTour level, but he also brings a wealth of experience having worked for the best GC riders in the world. "He will be one of the riders who can make the difference for our young riders at the Tour de France in the attempt to go for the podium.
"And at the same time he's proved that he can win himself in both the Classics and other WorldTour stage races. We are rapidly developing into a team with real depth throughout the calendar, including in all three Grand Tours. Roman's inclusion in our roster will be key in the years to come."
In recent years, Kreuziger primarily been deployed as a mountain domestique for Contador but he has carved out his own success too. On four occasions, he has finished in the top 10 of the Tour de France, including 5th place in 2013, and he won the young rider's classification at the Giro d'Italia in 2011. Kreuziger's 2014 season was largely disrupted by an investigation into fluctuations his biological passport. After a lengthy legal challenge, the UCI eventually dropped the case in June 2015. His victories also include the Tour de Suisse, Tour de Romandie and the Amstel Gold Race.