Team Sky has made the biggest indication that it will be a major force in international cycling by announcing 10 more riders for the 2010 season. It comes a day after team principal Dave Brailsford revealed the first six British riders.
The new signings are Edvald Boasson Hagen, Thomas Lövkvist, Kurt Asle Arvesen, Simon Gerrans, Juan Antonio Flecha, Kjell Calström, John Lee Augustyn, Greg Henderson, Las Petter Nordhaug and Morris Possoni.
"Today we’ve brought ten more riders into our team," Brailsford said. "It’s another big step in building Team Sky, and it’s very exciting to see the team take shape. These international riders join a British contingent - a fundamental part of the team - that we announced yesterday. They bring huge experience from the Classics and Tours, real talent that we can develop, and key elements for a high performance team."
Boasson Hagen has had his most successful year to date in 2009, winning Gent- Wevelgem as well as a stage in the Giro d’Italia and overall at Eneco Tour. Signed from Columbia-HTC along with Lövkvist, Henderson and Possoni, he’s set to have his chance at leading a team. However with riders of the calibre of Gerrans, Flecha and Lövkvist, Team Sky looks more than capable of competing on an array of fronts.
The new signings follow Geraint Thomas, Steve Cummings, Pete Kennaugh, Chris Froome, Ian Stannard and Russell Downing onto the roster. Over the following months these riders will be joined by up to ten more.
The new riders
Signed from Columbia, the Swede has had a breakthrough year, wearing the Maglia Rosa in the Giro. Sky believes him to an all rounder with potential in the Grand Tours and Classics.
Lövkvist says: "After two good years with Stapleton's team I felt that I reached the highest level of my possible growth there. The team's primary focus on the sprints in the Grand Tours was quite limiting for me. After talking to Scott Sunderland I got an idea of what Team Sky would be about it and it felt like the right road to future progression. When I heard about the structure and way of working I felt that this is something I want to be a part of. My personal goals will be the Ardennes Classics and the Tour."
Scott Sunderland (Sports Manager) says: "Thomas is 100 per cent professional and I identified him as such after watching his progress at FdJ and Columbia. After long conversations with his trainer, I really believe in Thomas's talent. In my opinion, he is poied to take the podium as one of the Grand Tour contenders one day; he's a magnificent bike rider. Thomas has not reached his full potential as yet and we'll do our very best to help him find those few extra percent in different areas.”
Juan Antonio Flecha
The Spaniard is leaving Team Rabobank to join the new British squad. The Classics specialist has stage wins in Paris-Nice and Dauphine, as well as two podium finishes in Paris-Roubaix. He is expected to play an important role in sharing his wealth of knowledge with the young riders.
Flecha says: "I decided to move from Rabobank because after four years in the team I needed a new challenge. For the coming years I expect to have a lot of fun in the team before, during and after the races and as a personal goal I´d like to improve my time trial skills for the one-week races, to perform well in the cobbled classics, and I´d love to be on the top step of the podium at the velodrome of Roubaix.”
Sunderland says: "Juan Antonio will be one of the cornerstones of the Team Sky foundation. He is brilliant in leading and motivating the team; he is a very complete rider. Juan is always there from the start of the season till the end."
Edvald Boasson Hagen
The 22-year-old exploded on the scene this year. Currently third in the UCI's overall rankings, the Columbia-HTC rider has won a stage in the Giro d'Italia and also won the Eneco Tour and Gent-Wevelgem.
Boasson Hagen says: "After a very rewarding start to my career with Columbia-HTC I felt it was time for me to try something new and see if I can reach further in my ambitions as a rider. I have had a great time in Bob Stapleton's team and want to credit all the people there for their help and guidance but fact is that I'm ready for new challenges. My main goals for the coming season are going to be the classics. I want to have a go at riding the Tour de France too."
Sunderland says: "I first heard about Edvald in 2005 when I was talking to Norwegian Joker-Bianchi team director Gino Van Oudenhove. Edvald really caught my attention as being a potential up-and-coming star. I've attempted to recruit Edvald for the teams I have been part of ever since. Now, thanks to the efforts Dave Brailsford has made in securing the sponsorship for the first British Pro Cycling Team, Edvald will be coming to Team Sky."
The New Zealand also joins from Columbia-HTC. The former World Champion and Commonwealth Games medal winner, 31, has nine victories this season, including a recent stage win in the Vuelta a Espana.
Henderson says: "The main reason why I have decided to move to Sky is because I like the guys involved in producing what will be a world-beating team. Shane Sutton is a great man to have your back and I know Scott Sunderland personally too. There isn't anything Scott hasn't done in the cycling scene - he has competed at the top for many years himself and has successfully moved into cycling management. And of course, it's kinda cool to be racing for a team that has the Union Jack on their flag just like the Kiwi flag.”
Sunderland says: "He brings a lot to the team as he has been competing at the top of track and road cycling for quite some years now. There will be no hiding the fact that Greg is on board to win bike races for Team Sky in the sprints and he had a terrific sprint victory himself in the Vuelta just recently and is now totally ready to finish off the sprints for himself."
The Aussie has won a stage in the Vuelta a Espana, to join the ranks of those who has won a stage in all three Grand Tours. The 29-year-old, known as a team player, turned pro in 2005. He won the Tour Down Under in 2006.
Gerrans says: "My goal for next season is to try and improve on my performances in the Ardennes Classics. I love riding these races and I know they are within my reach, especially after having another year of experience under the belt. I believe I can be a real contender in those races. Besides that, I would like to have solid results in the shorter stage races."
Sunderland says: "Simon is an outstanding athlete; he rides his races very intelligently and reads them very well; his planning is meticulous and during competition he doses his efforts precisely. He will undoubtedly be one of the protected riders for these races. I'm really looking forward to working with him over the coming seasons."
Carlström of Finland turned pro in 2002 and has ridden for Liquigas the last four seasons. He is a climbing specialist who is reliable in three-week tours, having ridden all three Grand Tours for Liquigas. The 32-year-old has a stage win in Paris-Nice.
John Lee Augustyn
At 23-years-old he is still developing, and showing the potential to be a great climber. He rode the Tour de France last year for Barloworld, and was involved in a dramatic crash 30 metres down a rocky slope which miraculously left him uninjured.
Lars Petter Nordhaug
The 25-year-old started out as a mountain biker, but later turned to the road and was Norwegian national road champion in 2006. Currently riding for Joker Bianchi, he recently won a stage of the Tour of Ireland and finished second overall, behind future Sky teammate Russell Downing.
Kurt Asle Arvesen
The Norwegian has been with Saxo Bank since 2004. The 34-year-old is a sprinter and Classics rider, who has won stages in both the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia. One of the older riders on the new Sky squad, the 12-year-pro will have lots of experience to share with the younger riders.
The Italian has ridden professionally for four years, two each with Lampre and Columbia-HTC. He is a strong team worker who is often invovled in breakaways. His career highlight to date is wearing the best young rider jersey in the 2008 Giro d'Italia.
The team so far:
Kurt Asle Arvesen, Norway, 34
John Lee Augustyn, 23, South Africa
Edvald Boasson Hagen, 22, Norway
Kjell Carlström, 32, Finland
Steve Cummings, 28, Great Britain
Russell Downing, 31, Great Britain
Juan Antonio Flecha, 31, Spain,
Chris Froome, 24, Great Britain
Simon Gerrans, 29, Australia
Gregory Henderson, 33, New Zealand
Peter Kennaugh, 20, Great Britain
Thomas Lövkvist, 25, Sweden
Lars Petter Nordhaug, 25, Norway,
Morris Possoni, 34, Italy
Ian Stannard, 22, Great Britain
Geraint Thomas, 23, Great Britain