Team Sky inked a two-year deal with French climber Kenny Elissonde that will allow him to ride in with the British squad starting in 2017, according to VeloPro website.
Elissonde, 25, won the Angliru summit finish stage in the 2013 Vuelta a España and in this year’s race, placed second in the Col d’Aubisque stage. He carried the mountains jersey through the final mountain stage, where he was edged to second in the classification by Spaniard Omar Fraile (Dimension Data).
He closed the Vuelta, 20th overall at 42-26 behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Last year, he placed 16th.
Since turning professional in 2012, the five-foot-six 52kg rider from Paris raced in FDJ’s white colours.
Over the last five years, he raced five Grand Tours. He moved his base to the Côte d’Azur in Nice, where he trains with others including Sky’s riders.
He has yet to race the Tour de France, and Sky may not change that. Instead, he could support Sky in the steep and high-mountain stages in the 2017 Giro d’Italia next year. In his first Grand Tour, he rode clear of a breakaway group on the 23.5% ramps of the Alto de L’Angliru.
Neither Sky nor Elissonde confirmed the deal. If it goes through, he would be the first Frenchman on the team since the British team’s debut in 2010. Then, it had Nicolas Portal and Sylvain Calzati. Portal is now one of Sky’s sports directors.
Elissonde had been in contact with team principal David Brailsford in the last days of the Vuelta so it would not be a surprise if he made the switch to the WorldTour team.