Two young New Zealand athletes will join American Taylor Phinney on Lance Armstrong's new Under-23 Development Team for next year. Former junior world champions Sam Bewley and Jesse Sergent will race as part of the squad directed by retired pro racer Axel Merckx.
"This is a big thing," former New Zealand cycling coach Ron Cheatley told New Zealand Press Association (NZPA) according to the Otago Daily Times.
"They are going to be rubbing shoulders with the two biggest names ever in cycling in Armstrong and Merckx. This is an absolutely fantastic opportunity and both boys are over the moon."
New Zealand cycling team manager Craig Adair paved the way for the young men by submitting an application on behalf of his two riders.
"Armstrong's team is sponsored by Trek and because I am the company's distributor in New Zealand, I was able to put forward an application to try and get maybe one or two riders on this team. I didn't have high expectations because you can imagine the number of applications that would have been put in."
The two will also continue to race with the New Zealand national pursuit team on the track as it prepares for the UCI Track World Championships in Poland in March.
Though the contracts of Bewley and Sergent don't start until January 1, both are expected to attend the team's launch in the US next month.