James Knox will step up to WorldTour level in 2018 when he joins Quick-Step Floors after spending the past two seasons at Continental level with Team Wiggins. The 21-year-old Briton has performed impressively in hilly stage races and classics over the past two years at under-23 level.
"It's amazing to join Quick-Step Floors, who is a team that excels in so many areas, from having the best classics riders in the world to the best stages racers and best sprinters," Knox said in a statement from the team.
"On the whole, it's a great outfit that always gets the most out of every rider, and personally I especially hope to develop my character as a climber, because it's where I can excel the most. When that is said, I would like to develop every aspect of what it means to be a top professional rider and I think Quick-Step Floors provides the best opportunity for just that."
A native of Levens in Cumbria, Knox demonstrated his potential with 4th place at last year's Ronde de l'Isard and offered further confirmation during a hugely consistent 2017 campaign at espoirs level that saw him place second at the under-23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, 5th at the Ronde de l'Isard and 8th at both the Tour de l'Avenir and the Giro della Valle d'Aosta.
For good measure, Knox also placed 8th overall at the Tour of Croatia in late April, a race won by Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).
"I am really happy with my season so far. I have managed to take a step up from knocking on the door last year to be close this year with a few second places," Knox said. "Runner-up in Liège – a race I dream of winning as a pro – was great and from there on to get good results over the whole season gives me motivation and confidence to take the next step up the ladder at Quick-Step Floors."
Prior to his stint at Team Wiggins, Knox received a grounding in international cycling when he raced with the Zappi amateur squad in Italy in 2014 and 2015. He paid tribute to the role of each team in his development.
"I owe all the staff at Team Wiggins a huge thanks for helping me reach my achievements over the season and progress as a rider over the last two years, and I also want to mention Flavio Zappi, who has meant a great deal and really shaped my career as an under 23," Knox said.
Knox is the third neo-professional to be confirmed by Quick-Step Floors for the 2018 season following the signings of Ecuadorian rider Jhonatan Narvaez from Axeon Hagens Berman and Dutch under-23 champion Fabio Jakobsen from SEG Racing Academy.
"James was on our radar for some time and we closely monitored his progression this season, but it wasn't only his results that caught our attention, also his right attitude and commitment towards the sport were equally impressive," said Quick-Step manager Patrick Lefevere.
"He's a very promising climber and we'll carefully nurture his talent in the years to come, while at the same time helping him adapt to the demanding pro life."