Tim Merlier celebrates winning the men's Elite race at the Belgian championships in June

Paris (AFP) - QuickStep on Friday announced a trio of new signings - Belgian sprinter Tim Merlier, Czech climber Jan Hirt and Danish one-day specialist Casper Pedersen.

Merlier, 29, winner of a stage on the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, has joined on a three-year contract from Alpecin.

“It’ll be great to see two Belgian champions” in the team, said QuickStep’s sporting director Patrick Lefevere in reference to Merlier joining Remco Evenepoel, who took the time trial honours at the Belgian championships in June.

Australian outfit BikeExchange made a signing of their own with Italian champion Filippo Zana joining them from 2023 on a three-year deal.

The talented 23-year-old, a veteran of three Giros, will be a boost to the outfit’s grand tour ambitions.

“We continue to strengthen our team for the big tours,” said team director Brent Copeland.

“This is what I’ve longed for ever since I began cycling when I was six, to join one of the best teams on the peloton,” said Zana.

Team leader Simon Yates last month extended his contract with the team until 2024.

In other ‘transfer’ news deposed Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar’s UAE Emirates team announced extended deals until 2024 of four of their cyclists - Rafal Majka, Brandon McNulty, Mikkel Bjerg and Diego Ulissi.

Pole Majka and American McNulty’s assistance proved crucial to Pogacar in the mountains in the recently concluded Tour de France won by Jonas Vingegaard.

McNulty’s sterling work helped power Pogacar to the 17th stage success on the Peyragudes summit.