John Degenkolb will be joining Lotto-Soudal next season as they continue to add talent to their Classics line-up.
The German sprinter will be making the switch from Trek-Segafredo on a two-year deal, saying he wants to target his own glories while also supporting their star Caleb Ewan.
Degenkolb, who won the Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix double in 2015, was one of six riders hit by a car while training in Calpe, Spain, in 2016 and fought his way back to an emotional stage victory at the Tour de France last season.
The 30-year-old said: “The talks with Lotto-Soudal have revealed that there are many similarities between the team’s goals and mine. It makes sense that a Belgian team with a long history in cycling wants to excel during the Classics. That will be the aim for the first part of the season.
“In addition, I’m not slow at the finish, especially after a tough race. Of course, I also look forward to working with Caleb Ewan, who will undoubtedly be our number-one sprinter for his specific goals. But with my experience, I can provide added value for him and for Lotto-Soudal. The team is often active on two or three fronts, which increases the chance to obtain nice results.”
Degenkolb started his WorldTour career in 2011 with HTC-High Road, before joining Argos-Shimano where he had most success.
He has wins in all three Grand Tours, including a spectacular victory on the Roubaix cobbles of the Tour last year.
But his biggest success came in 2015, when he took his first Monument victory from a bunch sprint at Milan-San Remo, then followed up with a second two weeks later on the iconic Roubaix velodrome, winning from a six-rider group.
Degenkolb added: “I am firmly convinced that I have reached the age to earn good results on the highest level and to keep performing during the most important races. I know the races, the courses and I have the physical capacities.”
Lotto-Soudal have also signed five-time Monument winner Philippe Gilbert from their Belgian rivals Deceuninck – Quick-Step, adding an experienced and consistent Classics star to their roster.
Team boss Marc Sergeant said: “With John Degenkolb and Philippe Gilbert, we managed to add two great riders to our team. John is fast after a hard race, which makes a big difference if you go to the line with, for example twenty riders.
“I hope that we will get to see the best of Degenkolb the coming years and I am convinced that he is capable of doing so.
“As a team, you need certain riders as a signboard, which usually has a good impact on the other guys. John has gathered a lot of experience and a big credibility inside the peloton. He indicated that he wants to recognise and try to take opportunities, we will for sure be able to define some nice objectives, he is flexible in terms of his race schedule and he definitely wants to commit himself to Caleb Ewan.”
Degenkolb said his targets for the remaining months with Trek-Segafredo will be stages of the Vuelta a España and then the World Championships, which will close out his three-year stint with the team.