With XCO wins in Lenzerheide and Albstadt, an XCC win in Snowshoe and a second-place overall finish in the World Cup series, Victor Koretzky enjoyed his most successful season ever in 2021.
However, despite building his career by rising through the Junior and Under 23 rankings on dirt, he has always harbored a desire to race in the Tour de France on the road. So, when the opportunity arose for him to sign with B&B Hotels p/b KTM road cycling team arose this off-season he took it with both hands.
B&B Hotels p/b KTM is a second-tier Professional Continental team but has been awarded wildcard placings at the past two editions of the Tour de France and it also competes in the Monuments and Classics races. The move would make him the second KMC Orbea rider to make the tarmac transition this off-season after Milan Vader announced last week that he had signed with Jumbo Visma
. Much like Vader, Koretzky said he would split his focus between road riding and mountain biking with a particular focus on the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The news was announced on September 13 and the French rider said on Instagram on September 23
, "After all these years on the mountain bike circuit, I am about to experience other adventures, on the road and in new colors... I have been thinking about trying my luck in this discipline for several years now, which I only practice as a preparation for my mountain biking activity. Even before the creation of this team registered in Continental Pro (the second division of the international peloton), I had discussed with its leaders the possibility of joining them one day to experience these races that have made me dream since I was little."
The move took on particular importance following the passing of the KMC Orbea team founder Michel Hutsebaut this summer. Koretzky says, "He and the whole team knew that if the opportunity ever presented itself my career would naturally take that direction. I have a mad desire for it and I will devote myself to it thoroughly, without abandoning mountain biking where I hope to shine until at least Paris 2024."
B&B Hotels is excited about the potential of Koretzky and said, "Victor is of the caliber of Van Der Poel or Pidcock. His physical capacities are exceptional, his agility and his explosiveness too, he is an extraordinary boy who will bring to the club all his freshness, his fun side and his taste for pleasure cycling. Victor is smart, road cycling is already part of his daily life."KMC Orbea's response
However, the transfer wasn't as simple as it might have seemed. A week after the announcement, the KMC Orbea team took to social media and claimed that Koretzky still had a year left on his contract with them. Their post said, "We take note of the announcement made September 13th by the B&B Hotels p/b Ktm road cycling team of the recruitment of Victor Koretzky for the 2022 season. Victor Koretzky is under contract with the KMC Orbea team until December 31st, 2022. This contract stipulates the decision-making power of Team KMC Orbea over the cycling racing program of Victor Koretzky within the institutional framework of the Union Cycliste Internationale."
B&B Hotels is not backing down though and on September 21 its team manager, Jérôme Pineau, told Le Telegramme
, “He will be with us next season. Between intelligent people, we will find the solution. The file is in the hands of the competent authorities." The team's social media pages also said
, "With due respect for all parties involved, PCE, legal entity of B&B Hotels p/b KTM, confirms Victor Koretzky's engagement... effective January 1, 2022, for two seasons."
As far as we know, the situation is still ongoing but the road cycling team seems confident it has secured Koretzky for a seat on its team next year despite his KMC Orbea contract. We have reached out to Victor and the KMC Orbea team for more information and will update this story as it develops.