Australian Pro-Continental team Drapac have announced the additions of Nathan Earle and Gavin Mannion for the 2016 season. The duo follow Jens Mouris from Orica-GreenEdge and Jason Lowndes and joining the team from next season.
Earle has spent the last two seasons in the WorldTour with Team Sky largely riding in a supporting role, which included helping Bradley Wiggins to overall success at the 2014 Tour of California. The 27-year-old rode the full Ardennes classics campaign last season while 2015 saw the Tasmanian largely riding 2.1 and 2.HC stage races. Earle said he is looking forward to taking more of his own opportunities next season with Drapac.
"I am excited to get 2016 underway with Drapac Cycling, a team I have always followed with interest," Earle said. "It will be a great team environment for me with a good core group of guys and some familiar faces, which I believe will only benefit my performance. Being a Tasmanian, it is great to be back on home soil, to be riding for an Australian team and still have the opportunity to race around the world."
Sport director Tom Southam believes Earle can return to kind of form next season with Drapac that saw him win stages at the Tours of Taiwan and Japan.
"It's great to have Nathan Earle on board, I think that he has masses of untapped potential and he seems as motivated as a neo, even after a couple of years in Europe. I believe we can give him opportunities in some top quality racing in 2016, and we will see him rise to the challenge," Southam said.
Mannion, who rode with Garmin-Sharp as a stagiaire in 2014, joins the team from Jelly Belly-Maxxis after a consistent season of GC results on the North American circuit that included fourth overall at the 2.HC USA Pro Challenge in August. Southam explained Drapac have been monitoring the progress of the 24-year-old and believe he continues to develop his skills with his new team.
"Gavin Mannion is a rider that we have been following for a long time. He pulled out some great rides at the back end of the year and his talents will be a major boost to the team in 2016," he said.
Mannion said that after six seasons of racing with Continental teams, he is ready to step up a level and take on a longer and wider reaching racing calendar.
"I am looking forward to the new setting and my new teammates. Moving to the Pro Conti level is the next step up for me and I am honoured move up with the professional environment and support structure of Drapac," he said. "Adapting to the new team, racing a much longer and more demanding calendar across the world will be the main challenges for me and I am up for them. I have always gotten along well with Australia teammates and directors in the past and feel Australians have a similar mentality to myself so I look forward to the year ahead."
Drapac also announced that Brad Evans, who rides for the Australian National Road Series team Pet's Veg Cycling, will join the team at the Tour of Hainan as a stagiaire. Evans is currently racing the Tour of Tasmania, regarded as the most prestigious NRS stage race, where he has won a stage and led the race overall in the first four days of racing.
"It's fantastic to have the opportunity to race with a professional team as renowned as Drapac. I look forward to proving my abilities at the next level. Racing the Tour of Hainan is a massive opportunity. I'm keen to learn and soak up advice from the seasoned professionals in the team like Graeme Brown," said Evans.