Italian Diego Rosa, who was pipped for the Il Lombardia victory on Saturday by Esteban Chaves, will join Team Sky for the 2017 season. A source close to the deal says that Team Sky and Rosa signed a three-year contract.
The contract has been rumoured for the last five months. Some insiders suggested that Rosa could join Bora-Argon 18, which will become Bora-Hansgrohe with Peter Sagan in 2017. Instead, the British super team in black and blue secured his services.
“For sure, I’m going to leave Astana,” Rosa said after placing second in Lombardia. “I haven’t say anything about my future so far because I wanted to show some respect to the Astana team while wearing their jersey. Now my season is over I’ll be able to say something in the next few days and talk about the future.”
Team news is not first on his mind this week. On Saturday, he will marry his fiancée.
The 27-year-old from the Piedmont region raced with Astana for the last two years, mainly working in support of team leaders Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali. This year he rode 100 kilometres solo to win the Arrante stage of the País Vasco stage race. He celebrated by raising his bike above his head and walking over the finish line. He placed 10th two weeks later in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, won by Sky’s Wout Poels.
In 2015, Rosa won the Milan-Turin end of season classic ahead of Rafal Majka, team-mate Aru, Thibaut Pinot and Poels.
Aru relied on Rosa heavily through 2015 to place second in the Giro d’Italia and win the Vuelta a España. Sky could do the same, but it is not sure if it will put the Piedmontese cyclist on its Giro or Tour programme in 2017.
Another goal is the Ardennes Classics where Rosa could become one of the leaders with Poels.
It will be a massive step for Rosa, who raced mountain bikes five years ago and went to the Under-23 cross-country world championships. After two years with his local team Androni Giocattoli, he left for Astana.
Along with Rosa in 2017, Sky will welcome Kenny Elissonde (from FDJ), Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx–Quick-Step), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Axeon) and Owain Doull (Wiggins). The team could soon announce a new clothing deal with Italian manufacturer Castelli.