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by Shane Stokes
December 12, 2014
Recently promoted to the WorldTour by the UCI and set for its biggest season yet in 2015, the IAM Cycling team unveiled its complete roster and tweaked kit in Saanen, Switzerland, on Thursday.
The Swiss squad competed in its first Grand Tour in 2014, riding the Tour de France, and then went on to compete in the Vuelta a España. Holding a WorldTour licence will mean that it will compete in all three Grand Tours in 2015 and will also compete in all the other races of that level.
Eleven new signings will help it cope with an expanded race programme and also with the higher ambitions and goals the team will have next season.
Those coming on board include the 2011 Dutch time trial champion Stef Clement, Etoile de Bessèges runner-up Jérôme Coppel, strong climber Jarlinson Pantano Gomes, former Tour of Utah stage winner David Tanner, Tour of Qatar 2013 stage winner Larry Warbasse, Thomas Degand, Dries Devenyns and the sprinter Jonas Van Genechten.
Those eight riders are joined by three others; Sondre Enger, who was racing as a stagiaire with the team this year but now becomes a full pro, USA Pro Challenge best young rider Clément Chevrier and 2013 Under 23 Swiss champion Simon Pellaud.
They will join the solid squad already in place, a lineup which includes GP Plouay winner Sylvain Chavanel, fellow Classic specialised Heinrich Haussler and the team’s GC rider, Matthias Frank. Another rider, Matthias Brandle, took the world hour record in recent weeks, succeeding Jens Voigt in that distinction.
All in all, the team clocked up 17 victories and 38 podium places. Those wins included stage victories by Matteo Pelucchi in Tirreno Adriatico and the Vuelta a Burgos plus Frank’s stage win in the Critérium International and the Bayern Rundfahrt.
Team founder Michel Thétaz was in a buoyant mood due to the new status for the team.
“The best Christmas present arrived at my office in Geneva several days ago in the form of a letter from the Commission of Licenses and the International Cycling Union which announced that we would be awarded a WorldTour license for the next season,” he said.
“This is the culmination of all the work we have done since the birth of IAM Cycling in spring 2012. We have made every effort in order to meet this challenge and achieve this ambitious goal. And today I am the happiest man because IAM Funds will celebrate its 20th anniversary by joining the WorldTour in 2015 as a main sponsor. I could not have imagined a better gift for the company that I founded and I have headed since 1995.”
Rik Verbrugghe is acting as the new operational team manager and coordinator of all activities on the road. He said that the team was determined to share out the workload and to protect the riders from overdoing things during what will be its first season riding all three Grand Tours.
“IAM Cycling does not intend to over-burden the riders on the team simply because we have reached this new level. In 2014, the average number of race days for the 25 pros under contract with the team amounted to 66 days,” he said.
“For 2015 with the WorldTour status, this figure will increase, according to our projections, to 72 days, which is a quota entirely reasonable in comparison to the other teams of this level. We definitely do not want to overwork our riders.
“With 29 riders under contract including three neopros, we will certainly managed to keep our promises and offer a race schedule that will satisfying everyone.”
He added that two distinct groups would be built, with Frank leading the stage race squad and Chavanel and Haussler heading the Classic structure.
Right now, though, the riders will keep working on their form and to ensuring that they hit the ground running when the new season begins.