Van Baarle placed fourth in the 2017 Tour of Flanders and will join Sky to bolster their Classics line-up.
“I’ve raced against Team Sky for the last four years and you can see it’s maybe the best team in the peloton,” Van Baarle said about his new team for 2018. “Now I’m joining the team and I think I will suit the team well.”
Classics are not Van Baarle’s only forte – he also secured the overall victory in the 2014 Tour of Britain as a neo-professional rider. He hopes to continue in shorter stage races as he develops, as well as tackling one-day races.
“I hope to get some good results next year in the Classics, but I think in small stage races I can also do a good GC performance,” Van Baarle said.
“I have a good time trial so that’s also one of my goals for the next few years, to show that I’m not only a Classics rider, but I also want to develop myself in the one-week stage races. I think Team Sky is a great place to help me do that.
“Finishing in fourth place at Flanders this year has given me a lot of motivation. Not just being so close to the podium, but also because I finished sixth the year before I could see the improvement in myself, and that’s what I want to keep up.”
He added: “I want to target a podium in a big Classic like Flanders or Roubaix. That is my main target.”
Team Sky sport director Servais Knaven praised Van Baarle’s all-round talent and his attacking style.
“He’s a really strong guy for the Classics with a background riding in Holland and Belgium,” said Knaven. “This year he was fourth at Flanders and always at the front of the race. He grew up with these tough races and I think he can be a really good rider for us in the Classics.
“He also won the Tour of Britain a few years ago so you can see he is a great all-round talent. He can time trial well and he’s finished the Tour de France three times so he’s certainly a strong rider.”
“He’s a guy who loves racing. You often see him going on the attack and he’s certainly not afraid to race and go for it.”
Van Baarle joins a raft of new signings made by Sky for 2018, which also includes Egan Bernal (from Androni Giocattoli–Sidermec), Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), David de la Cruz (Quick-Step Floors), Christopher Lawless (Axeon Hagens Berman) and Pavel Sivakov (BMC Development).