Cycling Weekly learned from inside sources that 26-year-old Thwaites already signed with the South African team, which includes Steve Cummings and Mark Cavendish. Neither Thwaites nor the team would confirm the deal, but a press release is expected soon after he and the team finish the Vuelta a España.
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Perhaps spurred on by the new contract or his Grand Tour debut in the Vuelta a España, Thwaites already made the successful escapes in stage four and in today’s stage eight.
Thwaites spent the last seven years at Bora-Argon 18, first when they were British team Endura Racing and then as they merged with German team NetApp. Since then, the team has earned wildcard spots to all the big races.
General manager of the German team, Ralph Denk has given him his chance to race in his first Grand Tour at the Vuelta a España this month even though Thwaites is leaving at the end of the season.
The team will take on a new look in 2017 with Peter Sagan joining alongside several of his Tinkoff helpers and a likely place in the WorldTour. Instead of being smothered in the Sagan-mania, Thwaites found a team where he can help Classics leader Edvald Boasson Hagen and try at times on his own.
Thwaites refused to name his future team when asked, but gave insight into his reason to leave.
“After the Classics, I spoke with the team and they were happy with how I performed in the Classics,” he said. “They would have liked to keep me, but I also had quite a bit of interest with people seeing me in the races.
“And then Ralph Denk came and contacted me when he knew that he was going to sign Peter Sagan, he was really good about it and explained the situation. He said that he could no longer give me the leadership in the Classics.
“He said that for me it would be better if I left the team. They still let me have a good race programme and allowed me to participate in the Vuelta, which was nice.”
Thwaites placed 20th even after a puncture in the Tour of Flanders this April. His entire spring Classics campaign went well with 16th in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, 10th in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, second in Le Samyn and eighth in the Dwars door Vlaanderen.