Tour of Alberta stage winner Colin Joyce will ride with Rally Cycling in 2017, the US Continental team announced today. Joyce comes to Rally from one season at the Axeon Hagens Berman development team.
The 22-year-old from Idaho ended his 2016 season strongly, finishing second during the opening-stage bunch kick at the Tour of Utah, then following it with the stage 1 win at the Tour of Alberta, where he bridged to the select breakaway on a difficult circuit in Lethbridge and beat Cannondale-Drapac's Alex Howes to the line.
Joyce wore the UCI 2.1 race's leader's jersey for two days before going on to win the overall points jersey and the competition for best young rider.
Joyce said his connection with Rally Cycling Performance Manager Jonas Carney goes back to a hospital room in Portugal.
"I met Jonas in 2014 while at a race in Portugal," Joyce said in a statement released with today's announcement.
"I ended up getting in a crash that put me in the hospital there. One of his riders was also involved in the crash and also had to got the hospital. Jonas was there, came over and was super comforting to me and offered a lot of help and advice. I instantly had a lot of respect for him as he helped me when I needed it. I kept that in mind while talking with teams about 2017. Rally Cycling has shown that they are arguably the best team in North America for many years. They have an amazing race schedule and give all of their riders a lot of opportunities to succeed."
Rally believes Joyce's versatility makes him a threat to win from breakaways, in bunch sprints and even summit finishes. Carney said he's kept on eye on Joyce's progress since their meeting in the Portuguese hospital.
"While he has flown under the radar a bit, he really stepped up when given the chance to start Tour of Utah and Tour of Alberta this year," Carney said. "Colin is a well-rounded rider who can climb and sprint. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do when a race becomes selective."
Following Alberta, Joyce competed with the USA Cycling U23 team at the Olympia Tour in France, finishing in the top 10 twice and taking part in the squad's winning team time trial performance. He ended his season in October with a 16th-place finish in the UCI Road World Championships road race in Doha, Qatar.
For next season, Joyce said he wants to continue his progression to the top of the North American peloton.
"I really just want to continue to develop and show that I am capable of racing at the highest level," he said. "I still have a lot to learn and am looking forward to the process. A lot of the older guys on the team have some amazing racing experience, and I want to use that to help further my abilities. My main goal is to help the team win or compete for the win in every race we enter."