Illuminate sign Martin Laas and Camilo Castiblanco
29 December 2017 02:36
US Continental team manager Chris Johnson has strengthened his Illuminate squad for 2018 with the addition of Estonia sprinter Martin Laas and Colombian climber Camilo Castiblanco. Simon Pellaud and Cameron Piper have both extended with the 10-rider squad that will continue to race in its familiar all-black kit. In 2017, Edwin Avila took stages at the Tour de Taiwan, Tour d'Azerbaïdjan, and Sibiu Tour but the Colombian has signed with the Israel Cycling Academy for 2018. Laas will spearhead the team's sprint ambitions in place of Avila with Johnston explaining to Cyclingnews that he believes his balanced squad can challenge for stage wins and overall victories. "For 2018 I was really trying to put together a well-rounded team and build on the team we had a lot of success with this year," Johnson told Cyclingnews. "We kept some core riders from the 2017 team and added some really strong riders we were able to attract because of our results. From the 2017 team, we have Cameron Piper who had a really solid season and got a lot of experience racing internationally and he will be someone next year who is maturing as a rider and will see some opportunity at the stage races we are doing.ADVERTISEMENT "We added a really strong sprinter in Martin Laas from Estonia and he is a young rider with three year's experience on the Delko team. I think he will fit into our programme really well personality wise. He is really hungry and looking for an opportunity to show how fast he is." A former winner the 2015 Tour of Estonia, the 24-year-old Laas finished the 2017 season with four second place stage finishes in the Tour of Hainan, each time behind Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina), and was second in the points classification. He's earned the team's confidence for the coming season. "Riders like Simon and Camilo are anxious to go for stage wins but I think everyone recognises what a talented sprinter we have in Martin. We have never had anyone on the team before who has the sprinting results that Martin has. I think we'll have a real strong fast-finishing team that will go for stage wins or overall races with a time trial."
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