With the CCC Team folding at the end of 2020, and the team's parent company Continuum Sports and its WorldTour licence being taken over by the Circus-Wanty Gobert organisation Want You Cycling, riders are scrambling to find teams in an ever-tightening job market. For American Joey Rosskopf, 31, his career rescue came in the form of another orange-clad outfit, Rally Cycling.
The American ProTeam has been making steady inroads into Europe of late, and recently announced the renewal of title sponsor Rally Health to ensure the squad's near-term future. Before Rosskopf, the team announced the signings of another American, Keegan Swirbul, and Dutchman Arvin de Kleijn.
"When I started racing, the Rally Cycling program was one of the strongest teams in America that you could be on, and that was 12 years ago," Rosskopf said in a team press release. "We're kind of making a circle here, but it's not like I'm packing it in and going back to the US to start over.
"Rally Cycling has grown to an equal level to what I've been doing on the WorldTour the last six years. I can't imagine the amount of work that riders, staff, and management have done to make that happen."
The Rally Cycling team moved from Continental status to Pro Continental in 2018, and have added more European races to their programme, including major 2.HC-ranked events such as the Dubai Tour, Clasica de Almeria, Ruta del Sol, Tour of Oman, Tour de Yorkshire and Arctic Race of Norway. They've also earned invitations to WorldTour races: the Tour of California, the GPs de Montréal and Québec, and in 2019, the Tour de Suisse, Flèche Wallonne and the Tour of Turkey.
The 2020 season was almost entirely cancelled in North America, but the team had a short campaign in Europe, finding success at the 2.2-ranked Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc where Gavin Mannion claimed two stage wins and fifth place overall.
In 2021, the men's team will be based in Europe, and will benefit from Rosskopf's experience of being based in Girona for the past six years. Rosskopf also brings ample experience in navigating the European races, having competed in six Grand Tours – the Giro d'Italia three times, the Vuelta a España twice and the Tour de France once – and during his six years with Jim Ochowicz's organisation, first with BMC and then CCC, he raced almost every major event.
Many American riders struggle to feel like they belong when thrown into the depth of the fields in Europe after coming up through the far different US racing scene, and Rosskopf said he feels that he can help his new teammates adapt.
"I'm looking forward to figuring out how I can provide the most value to the team. If nothing else, I hope to bring a sense of calm and reassurance – that we deserve to be at the biggest races and it's all possible," Rosskopf said. "You don't have to be an out-of-place North American lost in Europe. It's possible to belong.
"I think for a long time it felt like Americans had this big battle to overcome the expected way of doing things in European cycling culture. I'm the proof that American riders can go over to Europe and be competitive – I'm confident of that."
A two-time national champion in the time trial, Rosskopf is hoping to get back to working on his abilities against the clock.
"It has kind of been on the back burner for the last couple years and it's an area that I've had success at in the past, so I'd really want to find that again, and maximise that."
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