20 year-old Australian talent Chris Sutton will join compatriots Matthew White and Stuart O'Grady in the Cofidis team towards the end of this season, his current team, McGee-NSW Institute of Sport, has announced. Sutton, from Sylvania in Sydney, will become the second rider from the McGee-NSWIS development team to earn a full contract with a European professional team, after Mark Renshaw signed with FDJeux.com (now La Francaise des Jeux) at the end of 2003.
Sutton first attracted the attention of the Cofidis team bosses during the Australian Road Championships earlier this year where he won the U23 race. Another strong performance at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under confirmed that Sutton was the young rider Cofidis wanted.
It will be several months before Sutton joins Cofidis. Later this month he will represent Australia at the World Track Cycling Championships in Los Angeles and will then join the Australian Institute of Sport U23 Men's Program in Italy. After racing the Baby Giro d'Italia, he will travel to France to race with a Cofidis feeder team before joining the main team.
"This is a big step for me and very exciting," said Sutton. "I am only 20 and still have a long way to go before I reach the level of riders like Stuart O'Grady, Matt White, Bradley McGee and Allan Davis. I have a lot of learning to do but it is an excellent opportunity to start to build a career in the pro-ranks."
The McGee-NSWIS Cycling squad was established by NSWIS scholarship holder and Francaise des Jeux captain Bradley McGee in 2002. Funded by McGee, the Program aims to develop talented young Australian riders to compete on the European circuit.