Igor Antón has reportedly signed a contract with South African WorldTour team Dimension Data for 2016.
The 32-year-old Basque climbing specialist will join the team after two years on the Movistar squad. He is perhaps best known as being one of the leading riders at the now defunct Basque Eukaltel-Euskadi team, where he rode from 2005 to 2013.
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Antón told Spanish newspaper Marca that he signed the deal with Dimension Data on Wednesday, having been out of contract with Movistar and facing the possibility of early retirement.
“The idea is to do the Giro d’Italia. I hope to prepare better this year,” Antón told Marca. “Also the Tour of the Basque Country, where I’ve done well and is my home race. Although, if I’m honest, I also have in mind Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallonne. I really want to ride them again, they are beautiful races.”
The signing of Antón will in part make up for the team’s loss of up-and-coming 23-year-old South African climber Louis Meintjes, who left to join Italian squad Lampre-Merida for 2016.
After a period of several years without a win, Antón claimed a stage victory and the overall of the Vuelta a Asturias this season.
Antón can count Grand Tour stage wins and many top ten positions in some of the world’s biggest races in a career spanning over a decade at the top level, and was once touted as a Tour de France contender.
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His first of four Vuelta a España stage wins came in 2006, followed by two in 2010 and his last in 2011. Antón has twice appeared in the Vuelta overall top 10, placing eighth in 2007 and ninth in 2012. He also claimed a stage of the Giro d’Italia in 2011.
The Dimension Data team, formerly known as MTN-Qhubeka, has seriously bolstered its roster as it moves up from Professional Continental status to WorldTour in 2016. British sprinter Mark Cavendish was signed up in the autumn, along with the Manxman’s tried-and-tested lead-out team of Mark Renshaw and Bernhard Eisel.