PARIS (AFP) — Australia’s GreenEdge have added up-and-coming Belgian Jens Keukeleire to their line-up, the team announced on Friday.
GreenEdge is set to become the first Australian-registered team in the elite peloton and hope to acquire a UCI ProTeam licence in order to compete in the 2012 season — which should be helped by the signing of top names so far.
Matthew Goss, who won Milan-San Remo in March while riding for HTC-Highroad, signed for the team earlier this week, joining fellow Australians Jack Bobridge, Simon Gerrans, Cameron Meyer, Stuart O’Grady, Robbie McEwen, Baden Cooke, Matt Wilson and Simon Clarke.
Considered one of Belgium’s most promising young riders, Keukeleire has spent the past two seasons with Cofidis, winning the Three Days of West Flanders race and the Nokere Koerse for the French outfit last year.
“I had two fantastic years at Cofidis but it was time to make the next step in my development as a rider,” said Keukeleire. “It will be great to learn from riders like Stuart O’Grady and Robbie McEwen, who I have enormous respect for.
“I want to become an all round-sprinter, who is able to survive a hill or hard finale, and a classics specialist.”
GreenEdge aims to target the one-day classics in its first seasons, and general manager Shayne Bannan said Keukeleire should fit in well.
“The Belgians are born with these races in their DNA so Jens understands exactly what we’re trying to achieve,” said Bannan.
The team has also signed Lithuanian Tomas Vaitkus, veteran Canadian champion Svein Tuft, Dutch pair Jens Mouris and Pieter Weening and multiple African champion Daniel Teklehaymanot.