But now the 27-year-old sprinter has his heart set on opening up his account for his new British team NFTO (Not For The Ordinary).

Von Hoff joined the British UCI Continental outfit after missing out on a new contract during the Cannondale-Garmin merger in the close season, claiming he had been led down the garden path by former team manager Jonathan Vaughters.

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For his part, Vaughters denied he had left Von Hoff in the lurch, claiming that his agent was fully aware of the situation and had been shopping around for his client. Vaughters subsequently admitted on Twitter that he would "fire [Von Hoff] again if he had the chance".

I'd fire

Since the unsavoury spat, the Melbourne-born rider accepted a contract from third-tier team NFTO in a bid to kick-start his career - hoping to follow in the footsteps of Britain's Adam Blythe.

Released by BMC at the end of 2013, Blythe excelled at NFTO last season, posting a string of victories that culminated in out-sprinting fellow Briton Ben Swift (Team Sky) on The Mall to win the RideLondon Surrey Classic in August.

Blythe was snapped up by Orica-GreenEdge ahead of the 2015 season - a fact that will no doubt motivate Von Hoff as he bids to return to the upper echelons of cycling.

But Von Hoff has another potential route back into the WorldTour after NFTO last week announced they expected to be riding in cycling's top division by 2018. Having signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with Aberdeen Asset Management, NFTO will seek first to compete at UCI Pro-Continental level in 2016.

Before seeking promotion, NFTO and Von Hoff will have the chance to compete against the WorldTour's best teams at the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire, which gets underway on Friday 1st May.

Eurosport cycling blogger Blazin' Saddles was present at the official announcement of NFTO's new sponsorship deal with Aberdeen and managed to shoot the breeze with Von Hoff, fresh from a spin around the streets of London with Irish team-mate Eddie Dunbar.


BS: Hello Steele. You're used to being a small fish in a big pond. How's it being the reverse this year?

SVH: It gives me the opportunities to get results for myself. Before I was working for Tyler Farrar - leading him out, helping him hold position, and I think I did a very good job at that - but now I can actually get my own opportunities to sprint for the win. The best thing for me now is to stay where I'll be looked after and developed.

If we can move forwards and race at Pro-Conti level under the directorship of [former UK Youth team manager] Dave [Povall], who is structuring a very strong team, then we'll be able to compete against these guys and I should be able to get some results.

BS: It seems the underdog status works well for you...

SVH: For sure. In the Tour Down Under, we [UniSA-Australia] were the underdog team but we absolutely dominated so it's a format that suits me. My stage win was for the national team, but I was still racing with NFTO written down my legs. Besides BMC, who got the overall win, we did better than any WorldTour team - winning the most stages than anyone else - and I was there representing NFTO so that was good.

BS: How does working with Dave compared to Jonathan Vaughters?

SVH: I only ever met Jonathan Vaughters twice - on two training camps - so it wasn't very full-on, whereas with Dave, I see him every week. On a personal level, he understands me more as a rider so we can benefit from each other like that. He can make calls during races that suit me, whereas when you don't really know your riders it's a little bit harder to make those calls.

BS: How frustrated were you not to be given your chance at Garmin?

SVH: It was business - and I didn't do well out of the business end. I got pretty badly done by. I did everything right by the team - and for the comments that have been coming out on Twitter from JV's end... it's just been childish. It's not something I want to deal with or be a part of.

BS: Say you have a good year for NFTO, would Cannondale-Garmin come calling?

SVH: They won't. And if they do, I'll play his game, and I won't pick up the phone. The way that he's acted about the whole issue is so unprofessional. The way that he sacked [former team-mate and now retired] Thomas Dekker on Twitter is just not something that I want to be a part of. I would never return to that team as long as he's there.

The rest of the staff are fantastic, all the riders and everything are my friends and I follow their progress, keep in touch. I'm happy when my they do well. It's just the one issue that was the deciding factor or whether or not I kept my contract with Garmin - and he [Vaughters] spins all these stories about why the delays happened, and why I wasn't getting signed, and I just bought it, bought it, bought it, until it was just too late.

I saw the opportunity to come to NFTO and I jumped on it. I saw the way the team was run and I heard a bit of history about [founder and owner] John [Wood]. David Povall became the director and I knew from racing them in the past how well the team was run. I spoke to a few of the riders and decided that was the way forward.

BS: What's been the biggest challenge since moving over?

SVH: Probably the amount that I'm marked during races. It's pretty hard for me to be in the breaks and attack up the road because, as a sprinter, I'm not really the strongest time triallist, so I can't just attack off the front like the guy next to me [Irish youngster Eddie Dunbar] can, and ride 100km out by myself. So I really have to sit in and wait for the sprint finish. But the way UK racing works is that it's hardly ever down to a sprint, so basically the best I can do over here is support my team-mates, give them advice, and get results as a team.

BS: Have you moved over to the UK or are you still based in Girona?

SVH: I kept my apartment in Girona so I can head out there for training in the winter. But I live in Hereford now with the team at the team house. Hopefully I'm able to guide the guys a little with my experiences from the past and we can grow together. It's my first time living in the UK. I've been here multiple times with the Tour of Britain and stuff. The weather's finally brightening up for us, so it's looking good for the summer. And the food's ok too. In fact, right here in London it reminds me a bit of Melbourne.


BS: So, what's the ideal scenario for you? How would you like things to pan out?

SVH: It would be fantastic to be a part of NFTO's vision to become a WorldTour team by 2018. Of course, I want to be part of that dream. To be able to support someone that supports you is the best way forwards. But in any case, you never know what's going to happen, you never know the opportunities that might arise from anything, so you can't really decide what you're going to do now in three years’ time. So I'll just see what happens, see if I can grow with the team, and progress with the guys.

Results are what it's all about. If I can go well at those races then for sure I'll take it. I love racing my bike and so to be able to perform well would be fantastic. While I'm not out there simply to try and get on a good team, my ultimate ambition is to be back on the World Tour. I want to ride the best races - and that means the Tour de France.

BS: Finally, it's been said that you have the best name in the peloton...

SVH: Ha, yes, it is a very unique name. It's a good name and I'll thank my parents for that - and my German grandfather. I do get a lot of attention for it - but to me it's just my name.

Founded by John Wood, British UCI Continental team NFTO (Not For The Ordinary) was the number one ranked team in the UK at the end of the 2014 season. This year NFTO will be competing in all of the UK's most high-profile races, including the Tour de Yorkshire, Tour of Britain and RideLondon Surrey Classic.

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