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Joey Rosskopf is trading one bright orange jersey for another.
“I’m super excited,” Rosskopf told VeloNews from his home in Girona, Spain. “I’ve talked to the team a lot in the past few years, running into them at the Tour of California, or since they’ve been in Girona recently. I’m friends with the guys nave have gone training with them, and run into the directors around town. I’ve tried to keep that option open that they would have me on the team one day.”
The deal was announced Thursday morning by Rally Cycling.
Rosskopf said the deal brings a level of job security to his cycling career that will allow him to plan for the future. While Rosskopf is just 31, he’s already endured two periods of job uncertainty brought on by sponsorship woes within his team.
“The team has a really good relationship with the sponsor and the team seems super stable, and that is saying a lot in this sport, especially this year when we saw some teams evaporate midway through the year,” Rosskopf said. “Seeking job security is a good thing. It helps you plan your life in advance and feel good about being in the sport for the long-haul, knowing that what you got won’t end in a month or two.”
Rally Cycling, which is operated by Minnesota-based Circuit Sport, recently renewed its team sponsorship with Rally Health.
Rosskopf’s deal came together after a tumultuous season that saw his CCC Team reveal in June that its primary sponsor would depart following the 2021 season. The news led to months of speculation for riders and staffers within the squad about the team’s future, and their future positions in the sport. While some riders panicked, Rosskopf, who has raced with the squad since 2015, said he focused on getting into race shape for the season’s re-start in August.
“I was just staying pretty confident in Jim Ochowicz — I didn’t feel any big rush to get out of that program, and it felt good giving them a few months to do the sponsorship hunt because at that point it wasn’t like the team was folding, they were just looking for a sponsor,” Rosskopf said. “There was always still a chance.”
Rosskopf’s season revolved around the Giro d’Italia, where he rode in multiple daylong breakaways, notching two fourth-place stage finishes during the race. Closure on CCC Team’s future came on the eve of the Giro when CCC Team sold its WorldTour license to the Circus Wanty Gobert team. Once Rosskopf learned of the news he began the search for a new team.
Rosskopf marks Rally Cycling’s latest signing amid the team’s years-long quest to make inroads into the European racing theater. In 2017 the team joined the UCI Pro Continental ranks (now ProTour), and in 2019 the squad moved its home base to Girona, Spain. For 2022 the squad will focus primarily on international racing, and Rosskopf and other riders will be based in Europe.
Earlier this year the squad brought on talented U.S. climber Kegan Swirbul and Dutch sprinter Arvid De Kleijn for 2021, alongside under-23 star Magnus Sheffield. Rosskopf brings veteran savvy to the squad that has become a home to former U.S. WorldTour riders. Rosskopf has raced in the WorldTour since 2015 when he joined BMC Racing, and he has raced six grand tours in his career. A skilled time trialist, Rosskopf has also founded a place in the peloton as a breakaway rider, and his long attacks in daylong breaks have come agonizingly close to WorldTour wins.
Rosskopf said he does not see the move to Rally as a step down, since the team’s racing calendar includes many of the same events he did as a WorldTour rider. Rosskopf said he will continue to be based in Girona, Spain for the 2021 season.
“Maybe someone would see this as a step down but I don’t see it that way,” he said.
Instead, Rosskopf is viewing the move through the lens of his own career history. As a teenager racing in Georgia, Rosskopf often competed against the Kelly Benefits Strategies team, the precursor to Rally Cycling, in the fast and competitive road and criterium scene. While his career took him to other professional squads, Rosskopf always lined up against the team — which in subsequent years operated under the Optum Health and then Rally Health brands — at big races across the U.S.
Finally joining up with the U.S. squad, Rosskopf said, feels like a natural progression.
“When I ventured out of the Southeast as a 19-year-old they were the team to beat,” Rosskopf said. “It will be cool to link up in a different environment over here.”