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Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert-Matériaux will see new title backing for a season of overhaul in 2023.
The Belgium-based Circus gaming brand returns to the team after a two-year break as naming sponsor, with the Ardent investment group set to add further financing.
The Ardent Group will give its name to a development program designed to feed Intermarché’s WorldTour squad, and a new UCI Continental Development team is also in the works.
Intermarché-Circus-Wanty joins Lotto-Dstny and Soudal-Quick-Step on the Belgian sponsor carousel as a flurry of changes blow in for 2023.
Soudal shifts to Patrick Lefevere’s Quick-Step team after decades with its direct rival, while telecoms company Dstny joins the to-be relegated Lotto team.
All change in 2023 after above-weightclass 2022
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert punched a dozen pounds above its weightclass in 2022.
Its collective of underdogs and outsiders scored 24 victories across classics, grand tours and stage races, and put riders into the top-10 of both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
The space-saving name change to Intermarché-Circus-Wanty for 2023 comes in what will be a season of renewal for the underdog Belgian crew.
Marquee rider Biniam Girmay remains for the new year, but results-scoring stars Alexander Kristoff, Jan Hirt, and Quinten Hermans move on. Grand tour warhorse Domenico Pozzovo is still chewing over his future as he counts down to his fortieth birthday next month.
Mike Teunissen, Rui Costa, and Lilian Calmejane move in to fill the gap, along with a swathe of young developing talent.
“This has been a transitional period for the team. We had a smashing season and that sped up our development but it’s still against the backdrop of a small budget compared to the other teams, so obviously we lose riders but the important change for next year is the focus on development,” team director Aike Visbeek told VeloNews.
The Intermarché staffing set-up also sees a spring clean as veteran DS Hilaire van der Schueren climbs out of the team car and three new directors come in, including the recently retired pro Kévin van Melsen.
“We made a step forward this season. Both on the sports side with 24 victories and a fifth place in the UCI world ranking,” team CEO Jean-François Bourlart said.
“We worked to launch a development structure which will be operative from January 2023, competing the Ardent Group Cycling Academy. The creation of this team is a true step forward in our commitment to support young cyclists. The team will be directed by Kévin Van Melsen, aiming to form riders younger than 23 years old in professional circumstances to join the WorldTeam on the short and long term.”