Lidl-Trek announced it has launched a development team to support their men’s WorldTour programme. Former 16-year road pro Markel Irizar, who has headed up Lidl-Trek’s talent scouting operation since retiring as a rider in 2019, will manage the team.
Irizar will oversee recruiting and signing young riders, which will compete in 2024 as a Continental squad based out of Deinze, Belgium, where the Trek Factory Racing service course is located. Rider recruitment will also aim for young women’s talent as part of Irizar’s responsibilities as a scout and assistant sports director.
“This is exciting. Especially as Markel Irizar is the head of the ship, so you know the guys will have a great leader,” said Lidl-Trek rider Toms Skujinš on social media.
The development team was one of the road programme’s biggest priorities after Lidl became its new partner earlier this year.
“We are used to managing the resources we have. And now that we have more resources, the philosophy is not going to change. We are going to have more pressure, of course. We need to get more results. But we are ready for a challenge because, in the end, we have a winner’s mentality,” Irizar said in a team statement.
The first eight riders were confirmed by Lidl-Trek on Tuesday, with additional roster spots to be announced at a later date. Among the team are three 18-year-olds – Louis Leidert of Germany, who was third in the junior time trial at the World Championships in Scotland, double silver medallist at Irish Road Nationals Liam O’Brien and Patrick Boje Frydkjær of Denmark. Leidert and Frydkjær finished 1-2 in this year’s GC at LVM Saarland Trofeo.
Also on the team are 19-year-old Kristian Egholm of Denmark, 21-year-old Axandre Van Petegem of Belgium and a trio of 20-year-old riders – Tim Torn Teutenberg of Germany, Mats Wenzel of Luxembourg and Nils Aebersold of Switzerland. Both Wenzel and Teutenberg were silver medalists at their nations’ junior time trial nationals this year.
Lidl-Trek has already developed a solid core of young talent who have become leaders on the team, including former World Champion Mads Pedersen, 2023 Tour de France KOM winner Giulio Ciccone and 2023 Tour de Suisse winner Mattias Skjelmose, who is still a U23 rider. Irizar said the Continental programme was to add depth overall, and sustain success into the future by providing experience at second-tier and third-tier events.
“When you are able to buy something fresh and of good quality, with the know-how we have, with the chefs we have, with the kitchen we have, we should have no problem. We are gonna cook.
“We need the performance, and we want to win races, of course. I want riders that come ready to learn everything. When we win, we enjoy it, but we respect that there are others that aren’t so happy. And when we don’t win, we don’t find excuses. We need to know that we are here because of the fans,” said Irizar, who raced 10 years with the Trek programme himself.