Merseysider Mark McNally will become the latest Brit to move to a UCI ProContinental team for 2016, as the 26-year-old will join Belgian squad Wanty – Groupe Gobert.
McNally will join Mark Cavendish and Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka), Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural), Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18) and Dan McLay (Bretagne – Séché Environnement) in riding for a second division team next season.
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“I’ve ridden a Belgian-heavy programme for a number of years, I know the races, I can speak the language,” McNally told Cycling Weekly.
“One of Wanty – Groupe Gobert’s managers contacted [Madison-Genesis DS] Roger Hammond – they were looking for a British rider, and he put me forward.
“I’m made up. The deal has taken a while to get sorted but it’s been worth it.”
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The Belgian squad have one of the strongest race programmes of any ProContinental team: in 2015, they raced the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, E3 Harelbeke, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the Eneco Tour and Paris-Tours. An equally-strong schedule is expected in 2016.
McNally added: “I don’t know my exact schedule yet, but Wanty Groupe-Gobert go to some of the biggest races each year. Riding things like Flanders and Roubaix is something I’ve dreamt about since I was a kid.
“I don’t think that has dawned on me yet, but it probably will once I start working towards the start of the new season in training.”
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Having moved back to England following his switch to Madison, McNally and his Belgian girlfriend will head back to her native country in the coming weeks.
“I wouldn’t say I was resigned with racing at Conti level [the sport’s third division, in which both Madison and An Post operate] all my life,” he added.
“I love bike racing, and I’m thankful that I can make a living out of it. The move to Madison was never a dead end – it gave me a chance to ride plenty of new races, and like [Adam] Blythe, it gave me the stepping stone to bigger things.
“It’s a great team – the set-up Roger and the company have in place is something special. I’ve loved riding for them. “