Logan Owen will ride for Cannondale-Drapac in 2018, the team announced Wednesday. Owen, 22, has ridden for the Axeon Hagens Berman development team for the past four seasons, winning a stage at the 2015 Tour of Utah, the Liege-Bastogne-Liege Espoirs race in 2016 and a stage of the Volta ao Alentejo earlier this year.
"Logan's a really cool kid," said Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters. "He shows a knack for how to win races creatively and has demonstrated incredible tactical intelligence."
Owen excelled in cyclo-cross as a junior and U23 racer, piling up 10 consecutive US cyclo-cross titles before dropping the discipline in 2016 to focus on road racing and making it to the WorldTour.
"Regardless of if I got that contract or not, it was the right decision," Owen said. "I needed to put all my eggs into one basket to see what I could do. I'm beyond stoked that it all worked out and that I can make this next step up to the WorldTour with Slipstream Sports."
The Slipstream Sports team will be named EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale next year after the program struggled to find a sponsor for 2018 but then landed a big one in time to keep riders like Classics specialist Sep Vanmarcke, a rider Owen says he's excited to learn from.
"I tend to be better at Classics-type races," Owen said. "Getting to learn from Sep is one of the biggest reasons that I'm looking forward to the spring. I'm excited about all my new teammates actually. [Rigoberto] Uran is a legend. I already know Alex Howes, so it will be cool to race with him."
Owen eventually finished sixth overall at Alentejo in February and was third in stage 6 at the Le Tour de Bretagne, but much of his final season in the U23 ranks was hampered by untimely illness and injury. He bounced back well in the latter half of the year, however, earning podium finishes in stages at both the Tour of Utah and Colorado Classic.
Owen said that for 2018 he is hoping to continue learning the trade and to be the best teammate possible.
"That's the goal every year, of course, but especially during this year, which I consider a learning year," he said. "I want to help my teammates win races. Any personal ambitions will take a back seat as I learn the ropes of being in the WorldTour and help my teammates as much as I possibly can.
"Vaughters seems to have a really good plan to develop me," Owen continued. "I've seen this team support the development of young riders over the last couple years, which has been really cool, and it gives me confidence in the team's ability to help me develop as the top level of the sport."
While Owen was obviously excited about his future prospects, he took time to thank people along his route to the WorldTour contract.
"I can't thank Axel [Merckx] enough for the last four years and all the opportunities he's given me," Owen said. "I feel like I made it because of his support. I also want to thank my coach, Joe Holmes, who got me into the road cycling side of things. He's really helped me grow as a person and an athlete over the last eight years. A lot of getting this contract has to do with both of them."