Team Sky ups the Ante: Boasson-Hagen, Lovkvist, Arvesen, Gerrans and Flecha all sign
No superstars, but a strong lineup for next season
If yesterday's announcement by Team Sky was a positive one for the British scene – if a little underwhelming – then today's is a real statement of intent. Added to the six Brits named yesterday are an international cast including some major players.
Top of the list is Edvald Boasson Hagen (though Sky will have to learn to spell his name right), curently with Columbia HTC. The 22 year old Norwegian time trial champion has had a great season with a stage win in the Giro d'Italia and a victory at Gent-Wevelgem. British cycling followers will remember him from the 2008 Tour of Britain, where he picked up three stage wins in Stoke, Dalby Forest and Drumlanrig. He's currently third in the UCI rankings and is a real prospect. Columbia HTC will also be losing Sweden's Thomas Lovkvist (who spent time in the Maglia Rosa in this year's Giro), Kiwi Greg Henderson, and Morrsi Possoni of Italy. Boasson Hagen has two Norwegian compatriots on the squad: Kurt Asle Arvesen (formerly of Saxo Bank) and Lars Petter Nordhaug, who finished second in this year's Tour of Ireland.
Cervelo's Simon Gerrans was widely tipped to make the leap and the 29-year-old – who's fresh from a stage win at the Vuelta this week and becomes the first Australian to win a stage of all thee Grand Tours. Experience comes in the form of Spain's Juan Antonio Flecha, whose ten years in the pro peloton will no doubt prove invaluable. Henderson and Finland's Kjell Carlstrom add another two older and wiser heads to the squad. South African John Lee Augustyn is the final name announced today.
Here's the roster in full:
Edvald BOASSON HAGEN (Norway) An outstanding talent, just 22-years old, Edvald currently sits third overall in the UCI rankings, having won Eneco Tour and Gent Wevelgem along with a stage in this year's Giro d'Italia. One of the brightest talents in pro cycling.
Thomas LOVKVIST (Sweden)
Currently with Columbia HTC, he turned pro with Francaise de Jeux in 2004. Has had a great season, wearing the Maglia Rosa in the Giro d'Italia and winning best young rider at Tirreno Adriatico. GC and Classics prospect and a very exciting addition to Team Sky.
Kurt ARVESEN (Norway)
Known as a sprinter and Classics rider, he has won stages of the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia. Current National Champion, former U-23 World Champions and a pro for 12 seasons, he is an elder statesman who will be a good mentor to younger riders. The 34-year old has been with Saxo Bank since 2004.
Simon GERRANS (Australia)
Currently with Cervelo Test Team. Has won stages of all three Grand Tours this year, including the Vuelta this week, and proved a superb team player. Turned pro with Ag2r in 2005 before moving to Credit Agricole in 2008 and winning the Tour Down Under.
Juan Antonio FLECHA (Spain)
A highly experienced pro with ten years experience and a stage win in the Tour de France. Known as a Classics specialist, has two podium finishes in Paris-Roubaix. Brings a wealth of knowledge to the team and will play a vital role with the younger riders.
Kjell CARLSTROM (Finland)
Aged 32, he has been with Liquigas for four seasons having turned pro with Amore e Vita in 2002. Rode the Tour, Vuelta and Giro with Liquigas and is a stage winner in Paris-Nice. A specialist climber, reliable in 3-week tours.
John Lee AUGUSTYN (South Africa)
At 23-years old he is a young developing talent with potential to be a great climber. Currently with Barloworld, he rode the Tour de France with them last year. Turned professional in 2005 with Konica Minolta.
Greg HENDERSON (New Zealand)
The 31-year old New Zealander will join from Columbia HTC. A former World Champion and Commonwealth medal-winner he has recorded nine victories in 2009 including a stage win at this year's Vuelta a Espana.
Lars PETTER NORDHAUG (Norway)
Started his career as a mountain-biker before switching to the road and becoming National Champion of Norway. The 25-year old Bianchi pro was runner-up to Russell Downing in the 2009 Tour of Ireland.
Morris POSSONI (Italy)
The 25-year old has had four seasons as a professional; two with Lampre-Fondital and two with Columbia HTC. Wore the best young rider jersey during the 2008 Giro d'Italia.