Circus-Wanty Gobert's new performance director Aike Visbeek has told Cyclingnews that the team's biggest challenge in 2021 will be transitioning from the second division to the WorldTour and competing in all three Grand Tours.
The Belgian team, currently racing at ProTeam level, bought the WorldTour licence from Continuum Sports – the company behind CCC Team – in the autumn and will join the top league of cycling teams in 2021.
They have already bolstered their team with several riders in a bid to improve their depth and experience, with Jonas Koch, Jan Hirt and Georg Zimmermann all moving from the soon-to-be defunct CCC Team. The squad intentionally targeted climbers on the transfer market and they have been heavily linked with Louis Meintjes, who is out of contract at NTT Pro Cycling, with that team also set to fold in December.
"We need to make a transition from the Pro Continental scene to the much longer and heavier WorldTour season," Visbeek told Cyclingnews after it was confirmed that he would move to the team from SEG Cycling Academy.
"I’m going to manage the planning and the performance plan to make sure that we can get those results and make it through the transition in a good way. I’ll be the hub between the riders, the trainers, the sports directors, and the management.
Visbeek described Meintjes as "definitely the type of rider that we’re looking at", but also confirmed that the team would bring across riders from the SEG Cycling Academy as they look to increase their roster to around 29 riders for next year.
"The main challenge will be the heavy schedule with the three Grand Tours. That will make the season a lot harder but we need to make sure that the riders are fresh and ready to perform throughout those important moments. That takes important planning because you can’t race them full gas from February and right through to the end of the season," Visbeek added.
"On the one hand, you want riders who can grow with the team and on the other side, you want proven WorldTour riders. That’s the priority now, to get riders into the team who can handle the Grand Tours because we need to reinforce the line-up. We’re looking for proven WorldTour riders and more in the climbing department so that we have more depth in the Grand Tours.
"Our riders on the current roster have been successful on the Pro Conti level so the other goal is replicating that at WorldTour. In the Classics, I hope that we can score a number of top tens, and then we’re aiming for a stage win in a Grand Tour."
Visbeek distanced the team from signing another rider and said that he was unaware of any contact between the team and out-of-contract Mark Cavendish for next season. The team already have sprinter Danny Van Poppel on their books for next season.
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