Vital Concept have continued to hoover up WorldTour talent with the signing of Arthur Vichot from Groupama-FDJ. The 29-year-old has penned a two-year deal with the Breton squad, who have already snapped up Pierre Rolland and Cyril Gautier from the top tier of cycling.
Vital Concept was set up by former rider Jerome Pineau and made its debut this season. They had hoped to gain entry into the Tour de France at the first time of asking but failed to earn the necessary wildcard. Their approach to the transfer window appears to have the Tour in mind. Former French national champion, Vichot has been a regular in FDJ's Tour line-up since turning professional with the team in 2010.
Vichot, 29, said that the team's youth attracted him, calling it a 'breath of fresh air'.
''The nature of the project and its youth appeal to me," he said. "As soon as it was born, the Vital Concept Cycling Club emitted a seductive image and the team was envied. In the peloton, their jersey stands out and everything that is built around brings a breath of fresh air.
''We've been in contact with Jérôme for a while, and his vision of cycling is what I want. He trusts me and I want to give him back by continuing to win races, being successful all season long and bringing my experience to the group.'
Tratnik to Bahrain-Merida
Tratnik rode for Quick-Step in 2011 but spent most of his career at Continental level before joining Polish Pro Continental squad CCC in 2017, where he has impressed over the past two years.
Last year he won the Tour of Slovakia and posted a number of strong time trial performances, including a stage victory at Coppi e Bartali, 10th at the World Championships, and 9th in the final-day Giro d'Italia TT. This year he won another time trial stage of Coppi e Bartali as well as winning the Volta Limburg Classic and becoming the Slovenian national time trial champion for the second time.
"Team Bahrain Merida is one of the best teams which operates at a high level and develops rapidly. I'm very happy to be a part of this story," said Tratnik. "I would like to thank the team management who believes in me and has allowed me to be back in the WorldTour. In this team, I will get everything I need for my progress and I will do everything to return with good results and contribute to team success."
Tratnik is the team's seventh signing of the transfer window, following Rohan Dennis, Dylan Teuns, Damiano Caruso, Phil Bauhaus, Marcel Sieberg, and Stephen Williams. Manuele Boaro has left for Astana.
"The team expects that he will advance and help on the Belgian classics," said directeur sportif Gorazd Štangelj of Tratnik. "His way of racing is quite aggressive, but we know his escapes can also be successful. In the time trial, his help and added value in team races will be welcomed.
Astana sign Ballerini
Astana have announced the signing of up and coming 23-year-old Italian Davide Ballerini on a two-year contract.
Ballerini is a former bronze medallist at the junior world championships and recently won the prologue at the Sibiu Cycling Tour. In 2016, he had a spell with the Tinkoff team as a stagiaire before the team folded and has spent the past two seasons racing with Androni Giocattolli. He is the third new signing for the Kazakh team after they already confirmed Manuele Boaro from Bahrain-Merida, and Yuriy Natarov from the Astana City Continental team.
"First of all, I am very happy to join Astana Pro Team. This is a big team and for me it was always a dream to do this step into the WorldTour. And now, this dream is coming true," said Ballerini. "I hope to continue learning and developing as a rider, but, in the same time I am ready to help my new teammates. If I have a chance, of course, I'd like to try to use it. So far, the main thing for me is to become a good part of the team and to help Astana with all my forces to reach some big results."
Tiller turns pro with Dimension Data
Norwegian rider Rasmus Tiller will step up to WorldTour level next season after signing a two-year contract with Dimension Data. He will join new signings in Roman Kreuziger, Michael Valgren and fellow neo-pro Stefan De Bod.
Tiller has spent the past two seasons with the Norwegian Continental outfit Joker Icopal. He finished second behind Vegard Stake Laengen in the Norwegian national road race in June, having won it in 2017, and won the prologue in the Grand Prix Priessnitz spa 2.NCup race. He is due to ride the Tour de l'Avenir for the Norwegian team later this week.
"I am really looking forward to being part of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. It's going to be really exciting, and I am really grateful for the opportunity," Tiller said of his new contract.
"My big goal for 2019 is to continue developing as a rider and of course to do my job as well as possible for the team. I'll try to take the opportunities that I get in races and to do my best."
Anthony Turgis to ride for Direct Energie in 2019
Direct Energie have been pretty quiet so far during the transfer window with neo-pro Mathieu Burgaudeau the only new intake. The French squad have announced their second signing with Anthony Turgis moving to the squad for 2019.
Turgis, whose brother Jimmy will go to rival French continental team Vital Concept, leaves Cofidis after four full seasons with the team. The 24-year-old made his Tour de France debut this season, having ridden his first Grand Tour at the Vuelta a Espana in 2017.
He has previously taken bronze in the under 23 road race at the World Championships and was second in the French national road race this season. He's a former winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege Espoire and finished second at the 2012 junior Paris-Roubaix.
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