Two top cross-country mountain bikers have been linked to professional road cycling teams. It wouldn't be the first time that XCO racers have crossed over to race on pavement, but it could signal increased interest in mountain biking in the wake of multi-discipline success from riders like Tom Pidcock and Mathieu van der Poel.
Milan Vader has reportedly joined Team Jumbo-Visma, according to Wielerflits. The media outlet cites "several sources" and says that Vader "will be riding a combined mountain bike and road program."
Vader currently rides for KMC-Orbea and is ranked as the eighth-best male cross-country mountain biker. The Dutch rider recently placed seventh at the World Cup finals in Snowshoe and stood on a World Cup podium twice in 2020.
Team Jumbo-Visma is one of the most successful and well-funded professional road cycling teams, employing riders like Tour de France contender and Tokyo Olympic Time Trial gold medalist Primoz Roglic.
Vader is linked to the team through his personal coach, Tim Heemskerk, who also works as a coach for the road team.
The mountain biker told Pinkbike to "expect more news about his situation soon."
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Fellow KMC-Orbea rider Victor Koretzky is linked to B&B Hotels p/b KTM, a French team that races at the lower Continental level. Koretzky, who currently sits on top of the UCI's mountain bike rankings, announced the news via social media.
"Road racing has always been my dream," he said. "In the youth categories, I didn't race much on the road but I managed to get good results. I am aware that I will have to adjust my training to perform well in the final stages of races that can sometimes last more than five hours, but that doesn't scare me. I will adapt, it may take a little time but I am confident."
However, after the announcement was made, KMC-Orbea noted that Koretzky is under contract until the end of 2022.
"Victor Koretzky is under contract with the KMC ORBEA team until December 31st, 2022," the team wrote in a statement. "This contract stipulates the decision-making power of Team KMC ORBEA over the cycling racing program of Victor Koretzky within the institutional framework of within the Union Cycliste Internationale."
Koretzky and B&B Hotels then deleted social media posts about the signing.
The moves could indicate that road teams are growing more interested in mountain bikers. Olympic mountain bike gold medalist Pidcock and World Cup winner Van der Poel have both gained positive press for switching between road and mountain biking.
Road teams could also be interested in mountain bikers' fitness, especially their abilities to ride steep, punchy climbs.
This year, Sam Gaze has been competing on both the road and mountain bike for Alpecin-Fenix, the same team as Van der Poel. In the past World Champion Nino Schurter has raced a brief stint on the road, and Ondrej Cink completely switched to the road in 2017 before coming back to the dirt in recent years.
Check back for more updates on Vader and Koretzky as well as other mountain biker transfer news as the season comes to a close.