Willie rides on!
When we first saw Willie Smit’s twitter announcement that he had resigned with Katusha Alpecin, we £$%^&ed ourselves.
Thankfully, he meant re-signed, and he will have a second year with the top-rated team to show us all just how good he is. Happy days!
PS Follow the lad on Twitter – he is wonderfully outspoken: willysmurfy
Team KATUSHA ALPECIN are happy to announce three more agreements with riders for the current and next cycling season. Returning riders Willie Smit and Viacheslav Kuznetsov have both signed one-year agreements for 2019, while Dmitry Strakhov will join the team as a stagiare for the rest of the 2018 season.
Smit, age 25, is still in his first year of racing at the highest level, but General Manager José Azevedo likes what he’s seen from the South African.
Azevedo: “He came to us from a continental team as first in the African ranking, so this has been a very big step for him. This year he did a few WorldTour races, and we know that’s a lot to ask, so it was a bit of a test to see his capacity and potential. He’s had some interesting results – as an example in Amstel Gold race he rode almost all day in the break when he had never raced at all in Holland. It’s complicated for riders when they don’t know the race. In other races he’s tried to sprint. So he has shown us his potential but he needs time and we’ve re-signed him for another year. We believe in him and I believe after this learning year, next year he can show his true self.”
A returning veteran of 6 years on the team is 29-year old Russian ‘Slava’ Kuznetsov.
Azevedo: “Kuznetsov has been with us many, many years and we know him very well. He’s a rider who is part of the classics group, but he’s also fast and sometimes when we need him to work for our leaders, he is able to do this job. We want to keep Slava in the team for two reasons – one, because he is an important rider for the classics to work for our leader and two, he’s also a rider when given some freedom can get a result. We want to continue our work with him from these last years.”
A new face on the team will be 23-year-old Russian Dmitry Strakhov, who will come on board as a stagiare August 1st.
Azevedo: “I have followed him these last two years. He’s a fast rider. In 2018, in Spain and Portugal, he’s won five races in a sprint, most of the time when the stage has been hard. So he can pass over parcours that include medium mountains and then still sprint. He’s a rider that has some possibilities in the classics. He has shown us some of his potential so we believe in him and are happy to bring him onto the team as a stagiare with the idea to keep him on the team for the next two years.”