After two seasons in the WorldTour with Cannondale-Garmin, Lasse Norman Hansen will drop down to Pro Continental level in 2016 and 2017, signing a two-year deal with Danish team Cult Energy-Stölting Group.
The 23-year-old Dane, who won Olympic gold in the Omnium at London 2012, is hoping the move will suit him better when it comes to combining road racing with his track commitments, particularly with the Rio Olympics looming on the horizon next summer.
"There wasn’t much doubt in my mind. I think going to CULT Energy-Stölting Group is the right choice for me at this point in my career," said Hansen in a statement from the team.
"I get a chance to focus on both road racing as well as pursuing my personal goals on the track and especially the 2016 Olympic Games where I’m looking forward to defending my gold medal from 2012."
The track season is already well under way for Hansen, who claimed the silver medal in the Omnium at the European Track Championships in Switzerland last weekend and is currently riding the London six-day. He put an end to his road season at the start of September at the Tour of Alberta, where he claimed his first professional stage win. His primary focus has always been on the track but he has ridden a decent road programme in his two years at Garmin, focusing on the shorter stage races and the spring classics.
"Lasse is undoubtedly one of the biggest talents in Denmark at the moment. When he was only 20 years old, he won Olympic gold in 2012. In 2013, he claimed both Danish national u23 road race and time trial championship," said Cult Energy directeur sportif André Steensen.
"It was only natural for him stepping up to become a part of the Cannondale-Garmin team in 2014 where he has gained a lot of road race experience. I’m sure Lasse will settle in perfectly and I’m happy that he will continue his promising development with CULT Energy-Stölting Group in 2016."
Cult Energy racked up six victories this year in what was their first season at Pro Continental level after several years as a Continental outfit. They were on the verge of folding a couple of months ago, unable to secure funding for 2016, but Stölting Group has stepped up as a sponsor, bringing about a merger with the existing Stölting Group team.
"I think CULT Energy Pro Cycling has done a great job on the road considering the fact that it’s their first year as a full-time professional team," added Hansen. "I like the way they ride as a team and I like the aggressive approach. I’ll surely do what I can to win as many races as possible."