Team Sky have unveiled a host of big-name signings for 2015, with Nicolas Roche among the riders set to join the British team over the winter.
Roche, who will leave Tinkoff-Saxo after two years with the team, will be joined by Omega Pharma-Quickstep duo Andrew Fenn and Wout Poels, Leopold König (Team NetApp-Endura) and the returning Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin).
And team principal Sir Dave Brailsford believes the signings reflect the team’s high standards and big ambitions.
He said: “We’ve signed five quality riders for next season and each one of them will help strengthen and enhance the squad.
“We’ve always set our standards high and been very ambitious with our goals. We want to win the biggest races and constantly improve as a team and these new riders have the proven experience and developing talent to perform now and in the future.
“We have a strong nucleus of riders at Team Sky and these signings will be excellent additions to the squad. They all bring their own qualities and we’re looking forward to welcoming them to the team and seeing them in action next season.”
Roche, who finished fifth at this year’s Tour of Britain, has been a key domestique at Tinkoff-Saxo alongside a string of impressive performances in his own right, including finishing fifth at last year’s Vuelta a Espana.
He joins compatriot Philip Deignan in the Team Sky ranks and is relishing the opportunity to continue the upward trajectory of his career.
He said: “It’s a great honour to sign for Team Sky and I have the opportunity to ride with some of the best riders in the world.
“I feel that I’m still developing as a rider so now’s the perfect time to join Team Sky and to continue my upwards path. I’m confident that under the guidance of Sir Dave Brailsford and the team, I’ll continue to improve.”
Brailsford expects Roche to play a key role next year and is also excited by the prospect of working with Czech star König, who he described as having a “great combination of climbing and time trialing ability”.
Having won a stage and finished ninth at last year’s Vuelta a Espana, König, 26, was seventh overall at the Tour de France and hopes to deliver on his stage racing potential at Sky.
König said: “I’ve always had a huge amount of respect for Team Sky so to be joining them is a real honour for me.
“It fills me with huge excitement to know that I’ll be working with some of the best support staff in the world and riding alongside such a talented group of riders.
“Next season I want to focus on improving my stage racing abilities and pay back their trust in me by helping win races.”
Fenn, 24, meanwhile, joins after three years with Omega Pharma-Quickstep to become the first Scottish rider to sign for Team Sky.
After proving himself as a one-day contender in the junior ranks, winning the 2008 junior Paris-Roubaix, Team Sky hope the former British Cycling Academy prospect will play a big role in the spring.
Brailsford said: “Team Sky has a strong British influence at its heart so we’re very pleased to add Andrew Fenn to the team.
“Andrew’s a talented young rider who has come through the British Cycling system, so we know him and his abilities well. He has a bright future and we’re sure that he can develop into a key member of our team, and an integral part of our Classics squad.”
Poels, who also joins from Omega Pharma-Quickstep, is expected to play a key part in the team’s GC ambitions thanks to his ability in the mountains.
A stage winner at this year’s Tour of the Basque Country, Poels has spent just one year with the Belgian super team, playing an important role in Rigoberto Uran’s second place at the Giro d’Italia.
And, ahead of becoming the first Dutchman to join Team Sky, he said: “I’m really proud to join the best GC team in the world.
“This team has a very clear goal for me over the coming years and I look forward to developing as a rider and getting the maximum out of my strengths and qualities.
“I feel my best years are ahead of me, so it was crucial to make the right choice on my future. I know I can achieve my goals racing with Team Sky.”
Finally, Nordhaug was a founding member of Team Sky, spending three years with the team, and now the 30-year-old returns after two years with Belkin Pro Cycling.
He will be the only Norwegian at Sky, with Edvald Boasson Hagen set to join MTN-Qhubeka in the winter, and will hope to repeat the achievements of his final year with the squad, which brought victory at the GP de Montreal.
Nordhaug said: “I’m unbelievably proud, thankful and happy to re-join Team Sky for 2015. I started my professional career with Team Sky back in 2010 and had three fantastic years, so for me this feels like coming home.
“I learnt a huge amount with the team and it resulted in my best year as a cyclist so far, in 2012. I look forward to picking up where I left off and continuing to progress as a rider by reaching new levels with the team in the future.”