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by Shane Stokes
September 26, 2014
Australia’s Campbell Flakemore, who pipped Ryan Mullen (Ireland) to win Monday’s Under 23 time trial at cycling’s world road race championships, has inked a deal to step up to WorldTour level.
The 22 year old rider is one of three new signings announced by the BMC Racing Team on Thursday, with Tour of Utah star Joey Rosskopf (USA) and Manuel Senni (Italy) also coming on board.
Hincapie Development Team rider Rosskopf made his ability clear to team leader Cadel Evans in Utah when he finished a very impressive second on the Snowbird stage. He and Evans pushed clear towards the end to dispute the stage win together, with the Australian veteran using his experience to outfox the younger rider.
Flakemore’s performance this week saw him become the fourth Australian in six year to win the world under 23 time trial title. He earlier won the prologue of the Tour de l’Avenir and last season took TT victories in the Olympic Tour and the Under 23 Thüringen-Rundfahrt.
He was fourth in last year’s world championships and was able to overhaul provisional leader Mullen with a highly impressive final-portion surge in Monday’s time trial. He pipped him by 0.48 seconds, the closest finish in the history of the event.
“I knew it would be close,” said Flakemore. “I would have been satisfied with the podium after being fourth last year, but winning it was pretty cool.”
According to BMC Racing Team president Jim Ochowicz, the rider’s ability against the clock was an important factor in his signing.
“He adds significant value to our team in his specialty, which are time trials.”
The Avanti Racing Team rider will join compatriot Rohan Dennis on the team and will seek to gain from his time with him plus the established leaders. “I think I can learn a lot from those guys,” he said, referring to riders such as Tejay van Garderen, Greg Van Avermaet and former world champion Philippe Gilbert.
“My priority for next year is to get experience and learn how it all works in a WorldTour team. I want to learn as much as possible.”
The BMC Racing Team told CyclingTips on Thursday that the contract had been agreed prior to Flakemore’s successful world championship time trial.
Meanwhile Rosskopf has already proven himself as a successful stage race rider, albeit at a level below WorldTour.
His past results include that superb second place on the queen stage of the Tour of Utah, as well as a stage and the overall classification in both the 2014 Redlands Classic and the 2013 Paris-Arras Tour.
He also took the stage 4 time trial in the 2013 Tour de Beauce and was runner-up in both the road race and the time trial at the Pan-American Championships this year.
“There will certainly be more pressure to perform next year,” the 25 year old Georgia native accepted, talking about his move up to the WorldTour level.
“I am excited about the chance to get better and prove myself. I want to take advantage of all the support the BMC Racing Team offers to better myself as a rider. I also want to be there where they need me most. So I hope to play a productive role on the team.”
According to Ochowicz, the rider should slot in well. “He really suits our strategy of allowing new riders to come on board and achieve goals similar to the ones we have,” he said.
As for Senni, the Italian showed his own climbing flair when he won two mountainous stages in the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta this year. The Team Colpack rider also took the points classification and third overall.
“It is one of the best teams in the world, so it is a very big opportunity for me,” he said. “I want to thank Jim Ochowicz and the BMC Racing Team managers who believe in me. I hope to repay them with my performance. The first year I will have to adapt to the professional level, of course. But I hope to achieve what the sport directors tell me and I hope I can get some results.”
Ochowicz believes the 22 year old has a lot of promise. “Manuel has demonstrated some unique climbing abilities and over the next few years, we hope to further develop him in that aspect,” he said.
He said that the three riders together represented a push to keep rejuvenating the team. “This is part of our on-going initiative to bring young riders through our system as an extension of our work with the BMC Development Team,” he explained.
“We are always on the lookout for the best of the best and these three riders will certainly play a part in our future.”