Belgian team Wanty-Groupe Gobert has completed its roster for 2017 with the announcement that they have signed Dutch rider Lieuwe Westra.
The former national time-trial champion had raced for Astana over the past three seasons, during which time he helped Vincenzo Nibali to victory in the 2014 Tour de France. In that year’s race, he put in a memorable performance on the cobbled stage from Ypres to Arenberg where he helped Nibali gain time on his rivals.
In 2014, he also took stage wins in the Volta a Catalunya and Critérium du Dauphiné. Other notable victories for the rider from Friesland include stage wins in the Tour of California (2013), Paris-Nice (2012), the Tour of Belgium (2011) and GC wins in the Tour de Picardie (2009) and the Tour of Denmark (2012). This year, Westra won the Three Days of De Panne overall.
His win in the Belgian stage race this year has given him confidence. “Since that victory, I feel like I want to go for my own chances more often again,” he says. “I have had a wonderful time at Astana, and I want to thank the team for that.”
“In a smaller team like Wanty-Groupe Gobert I can take up another role in the races. And that is something I am also looking forward to”, Westra explains. “On top of that, apart from Hilaire, I will be working with many familiar faces. In a way riding for this team will also feel a bit like coming home.”
Grand Tour ambition
“We want to maintain or maybe even exceed this year’s results and will be aiming at another top ranking in the UCI Europe Tour next year”, team manager Jean-François Bourlart adds. “Moreover, it is not a secret we would like to ride a grand tour in 2017. With yet another experienced rider like Westra, we underline that ambition once more.”