Italians Marco Marcato and Andrea Guardini were announced today as the latest signings by Project TJ Sport, the Chinese-backed WorldTour team which Lampre-Merida will become in 2017. The pair join Ben Swift in the team, signing on for two seasons.
Marcato, an aggressive rider who specializes in the Spring Classics, comes to the team after two seasons with Wanty-Groupe Gobert at the Pro Continental level. He hopes to mentor the team's young riders in addition to fulfilling his own goals.
"I'm very happy to have the opportunity to race again in a WorldTour team: this gives me extra determination and it's a fulfillment for my career," he said. "I'm glad that such ambitious project, as the first Chinese WorldTour team is, chose to sign me: I'll try to exploit my skills in the races which suit me better, especially in the Tour of Flanders, and to inspire the young talented cyclists of the team".
Sprinter Andrea Guardini has been with Astana for four years, but has found the majority of his success in Asia, winning 22 stages of the Tour de Langkawi and three stages in the Tour of Qinghai Lake in addition to his single Grand Tour stage victory in the 2012 Giro d'Italia while racing with Farnese Vini.
He will look to add to his tally in the first WorldTour races of next season. "My first goal will be to be competitive in the very early races in the season: the Tour of Qatar and the Abu Dhabi Tour will be next year in the World Tour calendar, they will be important appointment for me, because I really like these competitions and it would be great to give satisfaction there to my new team.," Guardini said.
"I feel I'm at the top of the development of my cycling skills, I'd like to open a new chapter of my career which I hope can be successfull. It will be fundamental the exciting team spirit of the new team, which I know really care about the sprinters."