French team Europcar has announced its first signing for next season, 22-year-old German rider Björn Thurau. The son of former pro Dietrich Thurau, who wore yellow for 15 days at the 1977 Tour de France, will sign a two-year deal with the squad directed by Jean-René Bernaudeau.
"We are expecting him soon in France to sign the deal," Bernaudeau said on the team's website. Thurau finished ninth in Paris-Corrèze and tenth of the Tour of Azerbaijan. "We will give him two years [to develop] because he is still young. He became a pro this year and now wants to take his career one step further. I met him and he has a a good mindset."
Europcar is also still looking for an international high-profile rider, after bids to secure Thor Hushovd and Sylvain Chavanel failed.
Another young European rider, Klaas Lodewyck, will take a big leap forward by following his current team leader Philippe Gilbert to American outfit BMC. The 23-year-old Belgian will also commit for two seasons, according to Het Laatste Nieuws.
"I want to support Gilbert as long as possible these next two years," Lodewyck said. "This means that I have to get stronger on the climbs." During the off-season, the Belgian will therefore move to Italy for better training terrain.
"I'll never become a real climber, but I have to get over 4-5 kilometer hills better," he reckoned.