Philippe Gilbert will join with Etixx-Quick Step for the 2017 season, the team confirmed on Tuesday.
Belgian champion Gilbert joins the team after a four year spell with BMC, in which time he won the World Championship road race title, a third edition of the Amstel Gold Race and stages of the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.
The 34-year-old, who’s biggest victory this season came in the Belgian national road championships, will be hoping the move to Etixx helps recapture some of the imperious form he showed in four or five years ago.
That impressive form culminated with a victory in every Ardennes Classic in the same year, with Gilbert becoming only the second rider ever to achieve the feat in 2011.
“I was in contact with [team owner] Patrick Lefevere since my U23 spell and now I finally have the chance to ride here,” said Gilbert.
“I’m excited to continue my career together with Etixx – Quick-Step, a team whose ethos and aggressive style of racing are very much to my liking.
“I want to thank my former team for the time spent together and wish them all the best, but now the moment has come for a new chapter in my career. I’m looking forward to next season and I hope to be competitive and bring my contribution and experience to the Classics and to the other important races the team will target.”
Gilbert will compete for top spot in the team in the Ardennes Classics with the likes of Julian Alaphilippe and Daniel Martin, who have shown they work together well after decent performances this year.
However Gilbert has also expressed an interest in returning to riding the cobbled Classics, having taken third in the Tour of Flanders in 2009.
He was unable to take charge of a BMC line-up at the cobbled races with Greg Van Avermaet the chosen leader, but could be hoping to find a spot amongst Etixx’s formidable Classics squad which includes Paris-Roubaix winners Tom Boonen and Niki Terpstra.
Etixx have lost one of their Classics hopefuls for next season already, as Tony Martin announced he would be transferring to Katusha for 2017.