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by Shane Stokes
December 5, 2017
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Long regarded as one of the best teams for developing emerging talent, the Axeon Hagens Berman is set to step up a level in 2018 after the UCI confirmed that it has been granted a Pro Continental team licence. The squad had previously been racing at the Continental level, but will improve on that from next season and, as a result, be able to compete in bigger races.
“For us, it’s another major step in the growth of the program,” said team director Axel Merckx. “It wouldn’t be possible without the support of Steve Berman and his firm, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, that stepped up so we can be Pro Conti.” The move will see a reshuffling of the team name to Hagens Berman Axeon.
Merckx said that the change will be a beneficial one for the squad. It missed out on a place in the Amgen Tour of California in 2017 but will hope to be there next season. “The large, competitive races are obviously very important for us to be a part of in the United States moving forward,” he explained. “The program is as strong as ever, and the move will give us the opportunity to participate in additional races throughout the season.”
Berman is equally excited about what lies ahead. “The team’s transformation as it grows is thrilling, and we’re proud to partner with a team as dedicated to excellence as we are.”
The squad said that it will continue as an under 23 development team in order to continue “its focus on developing young riders through to the top level of the sport.”