Cannondale-Garmin have extended Ben King’s contract and added Phil Gaimon from Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies to their roster for the 2016 season, as the team continues its rebuilding process after the departures of Ryder Hesjedal and Dan Martin.
Jonathan Vaughers, manager of Cannondale-Garmin, tweeted on Thursday: “2 more rider signings tomorrow..We haven’t fully baked the press release yet(clue)..Because we’re still fishing for the right wording(clue)”
That triggered a wave of speculation on social media, with Jan Bakelants and Lars Ytting Bak among the more sensible suggestions, and Benoit Salmon, the retired 1999 Tour de France white jersey winner, Pascal Poisson, a stage winner at the 1984 Tour, and Mike Trout, the LA Angels centre fielder, coming from people who took the “fishing” reference a bit too literally.
The subjects of the tweet were, in fact, Gaimon, referring to his self-professed love of cookies, and King, who loves fishing.
Gaimon reunites with Vaughters having spent the 2014 season at Garmin Sharp, with whom he won his first ever race, stage 1 of the 2014 Tour de San Luis, where he finished second overall to Nairo Quintana.
“I had a great experience and the opportunity of a lifetime when I raced for the team back in 2014,” Gaimon said.
“I learned a lot about how to race in Europe, how to navigate the pack, control breakaways and better help leaders.
“I’m thrilled to come back in 2016 with another year of racing experience under my belt and apply everything I have learned along the way. It will be good to be back in argyle.”
King, meanwhile, signs on for his third season at the team, which he joined from Radioshack-Leopard in 2014.
That year, he rode his first Tour de France and finished in 53rd, one place ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez.
In 2015, he won stage 1 of Criterium International and took silver at the US National Time Trial Championships.
King said: “I’m really excited and proud to keep living the dream with the team in 2016.
“When you battle through the most difficult days, celebrate victories, and support each other as teammates, you become really good friends. That’s the most rewarding part of the sport for me.”
“I’ve improved every year and feel like I still have a lot of potential to realize. I hope to have a consistent 2016 and build on another Grand Tour and year of experience.”
Vaughters added: “Ben is a very talented rider and he is still developing his skills.”
“In 2015 he showed glimpses of what he will be capable of in the coming years, and a highlight was his performance at World Championships, which was absolutely amazing to watch.
“Plus, he loves bass fishing, which is something more professional riders should love.”