Colombian breakout rider Janier Acevedo will join U.S.-based Garmin-Sharp in 2014. Despite claims by Omega Pharma-Quick Step boss Patrick Lefevre that the UCI America Tour champion had inked a deal with the Belgian squad, VeloNews has learned that the 27-year-old climber signed with Garmin following his stage win at the USA Pro Challenge in August.
Garmin CEO Jonathan Vaughters confirmed the deal, telling VeloNews that it finalized after Acevedo’s blood test had cleared. Acevedo, who rode with Jamis-Hagens Berman in 2013, went through testing with Iñigo San Millan, the director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Colorado Hospital’s Sports Medicine Clinic, in late August.
“We had Janier stay with us for two days after the USA Pro Challenge, and he did two separate blood tests, at Iñigo’s lab,” said Vaughters. “One was a power test and one was a bloodwork test, and we agreed that we’d sign the contract pending his blood test results. I don’t actually sign guys until I see the blood work.”
Vaughters said that Acevedo’s performance testing in the lab was impressive — not surprising, given his overall podiums at the Amgen Tour of California and Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah this season.
Acevedo won stage 2 of the Amgen Tour atop the Tramway climb in Palm Springs, California. The Colombian bested eventual overall winner Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) on a day when the roadside temperature topped 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Acevedo rode away for third overall on the final stage in Utah in August, finishing second behind Francisco Mancebo (5-hour Energy-Kenda) in Park City, and attacked with van Garderen for the win in stage 4 of the Pro Challenge in Beaver Creek, Colorado.
When asked about his role with Garmin, Vaughters wasn’t certain, other than to peg him as an elite domestique in grand tours and a leader in one-week stage races.
“I don’t know, it’s a little open right now. He’s obviously green on the WorldTour level, but in Iñigo’s lab test, he’s extraordinary. He tested better than Tom Danielson, which I thought I’d never see,” said Vaughters. “Iñigo said he’s the best athlete he’s ever tested. Of course that doesn’t necessarily translate on the road in your first year at the WorldTour level. The expectation for him is that he can be a right-hand man for guys like Dan Martin, or Andrew Talansky, in grand tours. Whether that means he’ll race the Giro, and/or the Vuelta next year, we just don’t know. We haven’t seen him in WorldTour races, but he’s a guy that can probably race to win at the Tour of the Basque country, or the Dauphiné, or the USA Pro Challenge, we need to just work on his time trial. He should be capable of being an outright leader right off the bat. If we put a stronger team around him, and get him in the wind tunnel, I think you could see some big improvements. I think at Tirreno, Catalunya, Pays Basque, Dauphiné, Tour de Suisse, California, Colorado, he can probably be a leader. In grand tours, in his first year, I see him being a worker in the high mountains.”
Jamis-Hagens Berman team director Sebastian Alexandre did not reply to multiple requests for comment on Acevedo’s departure.