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Ulissi and Costa sign for two years with new Chinese WorldTour team

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Former World Champion Rui Costa points to his rainbow stripes.

Former World Champion Rui Costa points to his rainbow stripes. (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Overall winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida)

Overall winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) (Image credit: Jan Brychta / TTV sport group)
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Giuseppe Saronni gives a special memorial jersey

Giuseppe Saronni gives a special memorial jersey (Image credit: TJ-Sport)
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Rui Costa (Lampre) was in the day's breakaway stage 19 at the Tour de France

Rui Costa (Lampre) was in the day's breakaway stage 19 at the Tour de France
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Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) moves into the yellow jersey

Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) moves into the yellow jersey (Image credit: Jan Brychta / TTV sport group)

Former world champion Rui Costa and Lampre-Merida teammate Diego Ulissi are the first riders to sign with the new TJ Sport Consultation project that aims to be the first Chinese-registered WorldTour team.

The group announced last week that it would take over the licence of the Lampre-Merida team.

Costa, who won the world championships in 2013, said being part of the project was special for him.

"I had received proposals from other teams, however when Saronni described to me his ideas for the future and the project, I had no doubts and I immediately chose to sign a new contract for the next two years," the 29-year-old said in a statement released by the team. "I really appreciate that Saronni and the group of TJ Sport trust in me. This is a great motivation for me."

Ulissi, 27, has raced since 2010 with Lampre-Merida, the only professional team he's competed with so far in his career. He won two stages of the Giro d'Italia in May and recently took the overall at the Czech Cycling Tour.

"I'm happy to continue along the professional path I have started in the team several years ago, adding a new enthusiasm which comes from the Chinese project," he said. "I'm sure the next two years will be full of satisfactions."

The new formulation of the Italian team was announced at a press conference last week in Beijing. Chinese company TJ Sport Consultation was announced as the new licence holders of Lampre-Merida. TJ Sport Consultation replaces CGS Cycling as the holding agent to create China's first WorldTour team from the 2017 season onwards. A Chinese naming rights sponsor is to be announced later.