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Tour de France contender Bauke Mollema has inked a two year deal with the Trek Factory Racing squad, with the 27 year old appearing set to move into the GC-contending space previously occupied by the Schleck brothers Fränk and Andy.
The Dutchman finished fourth overall in the 2011 Vuelta a España and won the points classification; he then went on to take sixth in the 2013 Tour de France and tenth this year. Given his relative youth, he can aspire to bigger performances in the years ahead.
“I am very happy with this opportunity with Trek Factory Racing,” said Mollema in the team announcement. “The team has a great reputation in the peloton and I have had really good talks with Luca Guercilena. I can really feel the trust they have in me. The structure of the team is really solid and I like the vision of the management. The bike was also a major factor for me and the standards are obviously really high for a team that is owned by the bike supplier.”
“I feel like this team will give me the space to grow as a rider,” says Mollema. “A new environment and new faces will be good for me, I believe.”
Trek Factory Racing’s General Manager Guercilena said that he is keen to work with the Dutchman. “Bauke has shown a very consistent development as a GC rider, both in one week races like the Tour de Suisse and Grand Tours. He is also a high potential rider for the hilly classics, as he has shown last weekend by taking second place in the Clásica San Sebastián. We believe in him and we want to help him to bolster his talent.”
Meanwhile the BMC Racing Team has announced a new signing of its own, saying that the former Italian under 23 champion and 2013 Tour of Beijing King of the Mountains Damiano Caruso had inked a multi-year contract with the American squad.
“We are pleased to include Damiano on the BMC Racing Team’s roster for 2015,” said general manager Jim Ochowicz said. “He brings with him a strong desire to excel his talents with us.
“He is an outstanding climber who has delivered big results in the past and the future holds great opportunities for him both as a leader and a worker.”
Caruso finished third overall in last year’s tour of Austria and was also runner-up on the third stage. He was previously third overall in both the 2012 Tour of Britain and last year’s Tour of Alberta.
He said that the deal gave him ‘a big opportunity’ to be part of one of the best teams in the world.
“I am proud and happy to sign on with them. Next year, I want to try to win an important race and help others win races, too. I know I will have a good group around me to do it.”
A rider who is still looking for a contract for next year is Carlos Betancur. His agent Giuseppe Acquadro has confirmed to El Tiempo that an agreement has been reached between the rider and his Ag2r La Mondiale team to end his current contract early.
The 24 year old Colombian joined the team in 2013 and was due to race there until the end of 2015. He won two stages plus the overall in this year’s Paris-Nice and also took a stage, the points classification and the overall in the Tour du Haut Var.
However he returned to Colombia and broke off contact with the team, which tried unsuccessfully to get him to return to Europe to race.
He later said that he was suffering from cytomegalovirus. He didn’t ride the Tour de France as a result, missing out on what was due to be his main season goal. He will compete in the Vuelta a España but doesn’t expect to be an overall contender.
According to Acquadro, the agreement which has been reached is acceptable to both sides. “Ag2r has behaved in the best way. There were no major problems and the decision was made not to continue.”
It is not yet clear where Betancur will compete next season.