Igor Anton has confirmed his move to South African WorldTour team Dimension Data for 2016. The Spanish rider explained to Marca that his contract has been signed and the African team announced his arrival on Friday morning, revealing that 24 year-old Eritrean talent and Tour du Rwanda winner Mekseb Debesay will also join the team.
"It’s certainly a fortunate feeling. I always wanted to continue my career, but liked the idea to join this team. It feels like a good group of people and I’m really motivated to pin on my first number in the new outfit," Anton said.
Anton, a four-time stage winner at the Vuelta a Espana and one-time Giro d'Italia stage winner, added he is awaiting his new Cervelo team bike and equipment having missed Dimension Data's training camp last month.
"I still do not have it and do not know if it will be sent to me or if I have to go somewhere to pick it up. I guess so, because I also have to pass the medical examination," he explained.
The 32-year-old turned professional with Euskaltel - Euskadi in 2005, joining the Movistar team in 2014 after the financial collapse of the Basque team. With no contract forthcoming from Movistar, Anton explained he was "thinking about retirement" until a personal connection opened the door to continue his career.
"It was due to a masseuse who knows me. And thanks to my agent," Anton said. "The key was that the team got into the WorldTour. They needed a rider like me to expand the roster. They signed me and I am delighted. By now it is very difficult to find a team."
With two top-ten overall results at the Vuelta, Anton adds GC depth to the team and is likely to lead the team on its Giro debut in May but first wants a good showing in the Ardennes.
"The idea is to do the Giro d'Italia. I hope to prepare better than this year," he said. "I did not know well in advance that I was going to do it. Now I know that I will be there and it will make me better. I will also do the Tour of the Basque Country where I've done well and in the home race there are always options. Although, if I'm honest, I have my eyes on Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallonne. I really want to do them again as they are beautiful races."
Igor Anton spent two seasons with Movistar (Fotoreporter Sirotti)
Mikel Landa to make Team Sky debut in Spain
Mikel Landa has confirmed to Biciciclismo that he will make his Team Sky debut at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana from February 3-7. Landa then will head to Mount Teide for a training camp to prepare for Tirreno-Adriatico in early-to-mid March for the first time since 2012. The 26-year-old is building his season around a tilt at overall Giro d'Italia victory in May having won two stages and finished third overall at the 2015 edition of the Italian grand tour.
Landa's build up for the Giro also includes the Tour of the Basque Country and the Giro del Trentino where he won a stage in 2014 and then finished second overall in 2015. There is the possibility of Landa heading to the Ardennes but he explained to the Spanish site it will depend on his performance at the 2.HC Italian stage race.
"Perhaps I will do Liege (April 24) but it depends on how I feel in the Trentino. If I see that I'm on track for the Giro, I will go there; if not, I will rest and train a little more, always thinking of the Giro, the goal of the year," he said.
Following the Giro, Landa expressed his desire to represent Spain at the Rio Olympics in August but acknowledges selection will be tight considering the calibre of riders the country can call upon for the hilly parcours.
"At first I did not have the Tour on the calendar, but I'd like to do the Olympics because it's a course that suits me very well and I am look forward to going there. We'll see if I get selected," he added.
Wiggle Honda announces contract extension with Anna Sanchis
Anna Sanchis has extended her contract with Wiggle Honda for a further two years until the end of 2017. The Spanish national road and time trial champion joined the last in 2014 but suffered from illness and injury in her first year and thanked team manager Rochelle Gilmore for maintaining her faith.
"I'm very excited to stay on the Wiggle Honda team for the next two years," Sanchis said. "I feel our team is like a family and for me it's the best environment to arrive at my goals."
Gilmore added the 28-year-old is an important member of Wiggle Honda and is proud to retain her services for a further two seasons.
"Anna Sanchis delighted Wiggle Honda when she won both the Road Race and Time Trial at the Spanish National Championships this year," said Gilmore. "It's such a massive achievement to claim both those titles in the same year which proves the athlete that Anna is at this moment, one of the best! Anna is one of the people’s favourites!
"Anna brings a lot of experience to the team. She takes a leadership role off the bike and has a world of knowledge in the cycling world. We look forward to preparing Anna for the Olympic Games in 2016 where she will represent Spain."
Anna Sanchis and Dani King leading the training ride (Wiggle-Honda)
Eurogenerics to sponsor Lotto Soudal in 2016
Belgian WorldTour team Lotto Soudal have announced a new sponsorship deal with Eurogenerics which will see Mobiflex logo feature on the left-hand side of the team's knicks. Founded in 1979, the company is the number one generic drugs company in Belgium while Mobiflex is a dietary supplement produced by Eurogenerics.
"For Eurogenerics the partnership with Lotto Soudal is the first step into the cycling community. Our company, which has been integrated in the German group Stada AG since 1991, was a pioneer in the development of generic drugs in Belgium 35 years ago," Jef Hus, General Manager Eurogenerics said. "Meanwhile, Eurogenerics has reached the Belgian top in its line of business. The partnership with Lotto Soudal is a way to reinforce our position.
"We can identify ourselves with the values that Lotto Soudal stands for: honest, recognizable, close to the people and for all layers of the population. Visibility is one thing, but the next years we want to further reinforce our image and through the Belgian Cycling Project we want to get a complete view of all target groups that are linked to the bike. As a pharmaceutical market leader in Belgium we need to play an important social role, not only related to medication, but more and more related to prevention – because it’s better to be safe than sorry."
Lotto Soudal team manager Marc Sergeant added the partnership strengthens the Belgian component of the team, something he is proud of building over the last few years.
"With the National Lottery of Belgium and Lotto at the basis of the structure, the long partnership with co-name sponsor Soudal and the expansion of the partnerships with Ridley, Vasco and G&V and new partnerships like now with Eurogenerics, we have a strong range of companies which are all firmly attached to Belgium and have large national and/or international interests," Sergeant said. "Thanks to them we have the chance to let a team with a strong Belgian identity, combined with top riders from eight other European countries, perform on the highest level and to invest in talent development."