The Mitchelton-Scott men's team have finalised a roster of 25 riders for the coming season, rejuvenating their line-up with a number of young signings and older departees, while continuing their increasing focus on Grand Tours.
Svein Tuft, 41, is leaving for US Pro Conti team Rally Cycling, while 32-year-olds Roman Kreuziger and Roger Kluge are off to Dimension Data and Lotto Soudal, respectively. Meanwhile, 40-year-old Mat Hayman, winner of the 2016 Paris-Roubaix, will continue into 2019 but will retire immediately after the Tour Down Under in January.
The team are saying goodbye to 24-year-old Caleb Ewan, 23-year-old Robert Power - along with 26-year-old Carlos Verona - but are injecting youth into the squad with the signing of four neo-pros: Robert Stannard, Callum Scotson, Nicholas Schultz, and Edoardo Affini. The average age will drop from 29.4 to 27.6.
"We are losing some experienced riders from the team but every team needs to regenerate and we are in a growing phase as well. We have our established leaders, and that is clear, but we are also thinking ahead to back those guys up for the longer-term goals as well as short term," said head directeur sportif Matt White.
"We've got some really exciting young talent coming into the team and the average age of our team has dropped. These young talents come from different facets of our sport as well, from time trial specialists to climbers to developing classics riders. I am really happy with the final make up of our group, our future looks very exciting."
Ewan's departure is the latest evidence of the team's focus on Grand Tour titles, after Michael Matthews and Simon Gerrans also left the team in recent years. The sprinter won stages in the Vuelta a España and Giro d'Italia in his early years with the team but has been unable to make his debut at the Tour de France, voicing his displeasure at being scrapped from the team's plans for this year's edition.
He is off to Lotto Soudal along with lead-out man Kluge, leaving Mitchelton-Scott without a pure sprinter as the squad is set to revolve even more strongly around the three Grand Tour leaders, Simon Yates, Adam Yates, and Esetban Chaves. Simon Yates won the team's first Grand Tour this year at the Vuelta a España, while Chaves, who is fighting back from mononucleosis, has finished on the podiums of the Vuelta and Giro d'Italia.
The team have re-signed the Yates twins, along with important domestiques in Jack Haig, Damien Howson, and Alexander Edmondson. They have also brought in Ethiopian climber Tsgabu Grmay from Trek-Segafredo, the experienced Brent Bookwalter from BMC, and Dion Smith from Wanty-Groupe Gobert.
"We're a team that couldn't target one Grand Tour with a general classification rider not too long ago. Now we target three Grand Tours a year and basically with different group," said White.
"When you look at our three Grand Tours from 2018, not too many guys doubled-up. There were 19 different riders that participated in our three Grand Tour campaigns. There's certainly a degree of depth in our team now and that shows with the results we were able to achieve in our 10 months of racing."
The 2018 season was the most successful in the team's eight-year history, with 38 wins, six of them Grand Tour stages and one of them a Grand Tour overall title. As well as continuing the Grand Tour charge, the team are also aiming for success in the spring Classics, with Matteo Trentin - who was derailed by injury this year - leading the line along with Luke Durbridge.
"We have a Flemish and Ardennes group that are capable of winning up there and it's still a very big goal for the team," said White.
"It's exciting for us and our fans to carry the momentum into 2019. This year has been one of our most successful years, we want to carry on that success straight away from January onwards. We can go into next season with another degree of confidence and self-belief, and line up in the three Grand Tours knowing that we have done it once and the challenge for us is to keep doing it."
Mitchelton-Scott for 2019:
- Edoardo Affini (ITA, 22) - new signing
- Michael Albasini (SUI, 37)
- Jack Bauer (NZL, 33)
- Sam Bewley (NZL, 31)
- Brent Bookwalter (USA, 34) - new signing
- Esteban Chaves (COL, 28)
- Luke Durbridge (AUS, 27)
- Alex Edmondson (AUS, 24)
- Tsgabu Grmay (ETH, 27) - new signing
- Jack Haig (AUS, 25)
- Lucas Hamilton (AUS, 22)
- Michael Hepburn (AUS, 27)
- Damien Howson (AUS, 26)
- Daryl Impey (RSA, 33)
- Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN, 29)
- Cameron Meyer (AUS, 30)
- Luka Mezgec (SLO, 30)
- Mikel Nieve (SPA, 34)
- Nick Schultz (AUS, 24) - new signing
- Callum Scotson (AUS, 22) - new signing
- Dion Smith (NZL, 25) - new signing
- Robert Stannard (AUS, 20) - new signing
- Matteo Trentin (ITA, 29)
- Adam Yates (GBR, 26)
- Simon Yates (GBR, 26)