Sunweb Strengthens Development Roster
An In-Depth View on the Team’s Recently Introduced Development Institute
In early June, Team Giant-Alpecin announced the introduction of a pioneering development program, starting in 2017, that will complement the existing men’s and women’s WorldTour programs. The team has the ambition to play long term a prominent role in the top of international pro cycling, and with this strategic choice in setting up this development program the team made the decision to educate their own top riders from a young age and grow them into the WorldTour program. The project is shaping up with the aim of becoming the best development institute in the world.
The team’s newly introduced main partner, Switzerland-based Sunweb, one of the leading tour operators in Europe, is committed to this initiative of the team to play a leading role in both the top of international cycling, as well as in cycling’s grassroots development. Sunweb is specifically targeting its most important growth market, Germany, and together with the team is aiming to become a catalyst for efforts to revitalize German cycling – from the bottom to the top – with a long-term vision.
World’s No. 1 and 2 juniors on board; world-class talents join
From an impressive pool of best-in-class young riders who are eager to be part of this innovative program, the team has selected a group of youngsters who will be the first generation of young talents to join the development team. This select group, as previously announced, includes the first- and second-place finishers in last year’s UCI junior world championships, Felix Gall (AUT) and Clément Betouigt-Suire (FRA), as well as Max Kanter (GER), Florian Stork (GER), Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED) and Jarno Mobach (NED). The link to the team’s first announcement can be found here.
The team is proud to announce that the talented young Germans Leon Rohde and Martin Salmon will join the team as well. Rohde, 21, took fourth place in the German U23 time trial championships and finished in the top 10 overall at the Carpathian Couriers Race and (twice) at the Tour de Berlin. Salmon is recognized as very talented all-rounder. 2016 was the first year in the under-23 category for the 18-year-old, who was among the top riders in the world in the junior ranks.
Also joining the development program are 18-year-old Maxime Gressier, a very gifted French rider, and Nils Eekhoff, who together with Mobach and Nieuwenhuis belongs to the biggest talents of their age group in the Netherlands.
Offering a streamlined road to the WorldTour, with German roots
Instead of aiming to become the best-performing development team in terms of results, Team Sunweb aims to develop its very own champions of tomorrow from a young age and become the best possible team to develop talented riders and prepare them for a career in the WorldTour. The development program will be based in Germany, and will ride under a UCI Continental license.
The team’s CEO Iwan Spekenbrink (NED) said: “We are on course to create one of the world’s leading development institutes, because we believe this development program contributes to our ambition to stay long term one of the prominent teams in the top of international pro cycling. For that we obviously need talented athletes with the required physical capacities that Mother Nature gave them. We’re pleased to have signed world-class riders in the junior category, and only the best qualify for selection to the team. The development program will be firmly rooted in the German cycling structure, with a team base in Germany and the team is looking forward to a partnership with a German university. We’ll work with the riders with the clear objective of them becoming the best possible cyclists in a time frame of five years, and becoming as successful as possible in the WorldTour.
“We will adopt a broad approach and focus equally on the riders’ education, since not every talent will ultimately make it into the WorldTour. It all centers around the objective of development, first as a person, learning the rules of life and about clean sports, and ultimately as a professional athlete. But at the very minimum we want to offer something relevant to those young men and prepare them for the next chapter in their life, whether it’s on or off the bike.
“Our demanding ‘Keep Challenging’ approach enables developing talents to make the best possible progression. We’ll teach them early on that cycling is much more than just having strong legs, and they’ll need to be world champions at teamwork to be able to be in a position to win races. In addition to promoting teamwork, we’ll apply our expertise and scientific knowledge from the WorldTour program, where we constantly looking for the latest technologies and ways to improve our equipment, with the aim of saving energy on the bike.”