Vital Concept have continued to hoover up WorldTour talent with the signing of Arthur Vichot from Groupama-FDJ. The 29-year-old has penned a two-year deal with the Breton squad, who have already snapped up Pierre Rolland and Cyril Gautier from the top tier of cycling.
Vital Concept was set up by former rider Jerome Pineau and made its debut this season. They had hoped to gain entry into the Tour de France at the first time of asking but failed to earn the necessary wildcard. Their approach to the transfer window appears to have the Tour in mind. Former French national champion, Vichot has been a regular in FDJ’s Tour line-up since turning professional with the team in 2010.
Vichot, 29, said that the team’s youth attracted him, calling it a ‘breath of fresh air’.
”The nature of the project and its youth appeal to me,” he said. “As soon as it was born, the Vital Concept Cycling Club emitted a seductive image and the team was envied. In the peloton, their jersey stands out and everything that is built around brings a breath of fresh air.
”We’ve been in contact with Jérôme for a while, and his vision of cycling is what I want. He trusts me and I want to give him back by continuing to win races, being successful all season long and bringing my experience to the group.’
Tratnik to Bahrain-Merida
Bahrain-Merida have signed Jan Tratnik from the CCC-Sprandi Polkowice team to bolster their engine room in time trials and the spring classics.
Dimension Data confirmed that Cavendish will skip Norway but gave no further details. “An update on Mark’s return to racing will be given in due course,” the team announced.
Cavendish finished 12th in the Prudential RideLondon after being eliminated from the Tour de France on stage 11, missing the time cut on a brutal mountain stage along with teammate Mark Renshaw and Katusha-Alpecin’s Marcel Kittel.
Bernard Eisel will replace Cavendish, continuing his return from a subdural hematoma, having raced the Tour de Pologne last week. He is joined by Mekseb Debesay, Jacques Janse van Rensburg and two trainees Kent Main and Connor Swift.
Main, 22, comes from the Dimension Data continental squad, while Swift, the British national champion, joins the squad from Madison Genesis.
Michael Schär will complete a decade riding with Jim Ochowicz’s team after signing a contract extension for 2019, when Polish shoe brand CCC will take over title sponsorship of the team.
The Swiss rider started his career at Phonak and spent three seasons at Astana, but joined BMC Racing in 2010 and has never looked back. A key part of the Classics squad built around Greg Van Avermaet and a trusted domestique in the Grand Tours, the 31-year-old opted to stay with the team despite the uncertainty changes arising from the late sponsorship switch.
“I am happy to reach the 10-year mark with Continuum Sports. I have a long-term relationship with this organization and feel very good on and off the bike. Over all these years, I met many good friends and made some unforgettable memories which have really shaped my career. We have been through highs and lows together so I am really happy to continue with the team, and make more memories in the coming years,” Schär said.
“I’m motivated more than ever to perform well and take responsibility at the biggest races in the cycling calendar, especially the Classics with Greg Van Avermaet. With a very positive mindset, I see good things happening with the changes in the team for 2019 and it will be exciting to see everything come together.”
Schär’s 6’5″ build makes him a powerful rider and he has established himself as one of the most valued domestiques at BMC. He only has a couple of wins on his palmares – a Swiss road race title and a stage of the Tour of Utah – but he has raced the past eight editions of the Tour de France for the team, starting with Cadel Evans’ victory in 2011.
Schär is the third BMC Racing rider to extend his contract into the CCC era, following Van Avermaet, Alessandro De Marchi, and Nathan Van Hooydonck.