In the margin of the team building last weekend at Hotel Aero44 in Charlerloi, Simone Antonini and Mark McNally extended their contract with Wanty-Groupe Gobert until the end of 2018. Both are loyal riders who can be counted upon. McNally will start his third year at the team, Antonini his fourth.
The 28-year-old Brit Mark McNally, who lives in Belgium (Heist-op-den-Berg) is an offensive rider who was frequently in breakaways the past year. He was in front in important classics as Tour of Flanders and Ghent-Wevelgem and finished on the podium in Ronde van Drenthe and Eneco Tour the past two years. 26-year-old Italian Simone Antonini is a loyal teammate who is always ready to assist the team leaders and pull hard in front of the peloton.
With this two prolongations Wanty-Groupe Gobert is complete for 2018. The team will be able to count on the combined forces of 21 riders next season. Five riders leave the team. Kenny Dehaes, Robin Stenuit and Guillaume Levarlet will wear another jersey and Frederik Veuchelen and Danilo Napolitano put an end to their career. « Fré » integrates the staff as trainer. Odd Christian Eiking (FDJ), Boris Vallée (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Timothy Dupont (Crelan-Willems) and Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Soudal) are the newcomers.
Hilaire Van der Schueren:
"Antonini and McNally are two riders who are always willing to do their job. Working in the chase or going in the breakaway can not be underestimated. As a result, their results are sometimes less, but their teammates can thus benefit from their work. "
"On paper we are strengthened for 2018. Now it is up to the riders to deliver performances. With the signing of Bart De Clercq and Odd Christian Eiking we now form a solid team around our French climbing talent Guillaume Martin. With these riders I also hope to perform in the Ardennes classics, that was something we lacked in the past seasons. "
"In 2017 Yoann Offredo has proven that he can perform in the big classics. Hopefully he can continue the good work in 2018. I also expect a lot from Frederik Backaert and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck in the cobbled classics. "
"In the sprint we can count on the fast legs of Timothy Dupont and Andrea Pasqualon. Our new Walloon rider Boris Vallée will launch the sprint for them, but if one of them isn't feeling good, Vallée can also take his own chances. "
"I am very happy with my contract extension at team Wanty-Groupe Gobert. Regarding the 2018 season I hope I have no more trouble that unfortunately occured in the last 2 years. I wasn't in top form in most of the classics because of that. My goals are to be able to make a bigger step in the cobbled classics. I want to thank everyone at the team for the trust they have. I have a great feeling with all my teammates. Belgium is a second home for me."
"I would like to be in front on the crucial moments in order to be in support of the team leaders and grasp some good results. I also hope to be in a Grand Tour like Tour de France, if we get a wild card. That would be beneficial for my growth and for expanding my limitations."
"In 2018 I want to continue my development. The last two years at team Wanty-Groupe Gobert I have come a long way with a lot of podium places and top tens. In 2018 I would like to make that next step and win a race or two. For the rest I want to keep working hard and take my chances when they arise."
Simone Antonini, 26 (Italy)
Frederik Backaert, 27
Jérôme Baugnies, 30
Thomas Degand, 31
Tom Devriendt, 26
Fabien Doubey, 24 (France)
Wesley Kreder, 27 (Netherlands)
Guillaume Martin, 24 (France)
Mark McNally, 28 (Great Britain)
Xandro Meurisse, 25
Marco Minnaard, 28 (Netherlands)
Yoann Offredo, 31 (France)
Andrea Pasqualon, 29 (Italy)
Dion Smith, 24 (New-Zealand)
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, 26
Pieter Vanspeybrouck, 30
Kevin Van Melsen, 30
Bart De Clercq, 31 (Lotto-Soudal)
Timothy Dupont, 30 (Crelan-Willems)
Odd Christian Eiking, 22 (Norway, FDJ)
Boris Vallée, 24 (Fortuneo-Oscaro)
Kenny Dehaes (WB-Veranclassic)
Guillaume Levarlet (Auber 93)
Robin Sténuit (?)
Danilo Napolitano (Stopped)
Frederik Veuchelen (Stopped)