LottoNL-Jumbo sign young American Vermeulen

'From the moment I first got on a bike, I dreamed of becoming a pro cyclist'

American under-23 rider Alexey Vermeulen has inked a two-year deal with the WorldTour outfit LottoNL-Jumbo for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. In an announcement, the team noted that they are pleased to provide a development opportunity for the young rider.

"We want to help Alexey to become a good stage race cyclist," sport director Nico Verhoeven said.

"He is a young rider, who has developed steadily in recent years. Because of a broken wrist he missed the World Championships, but otherwise he definitely would have been racing the U23 road race in Richmond. We want to guide him towards the top."

Vermeulen is a relatively unknown rider but he did spent time with the BMC development team in Europe. He had strong results in the under-23 category with a second overall at the Tour de l'Abitibi, fourth overall at 3-Etappen-Rundfahrt and fifth overall at Rothaus Regio-Tour International, all in 2012.

He comes from a line of relatives who were cyclists, father and grandfather, and he said he is looking forward to learning from world-class riders like Robert Gesink.

"This is unbelievable. From the moment I first got on a bike, I dreamed of becoming a pro cyclist," Vermeulen said. "This move is special for my father, his father was Dutch and my grandfather, who inspired me to start cycling. It makes me excited to learn the language.

"I like that I get to work with somebody like Robert Gesink. He's very experienced and recorded big successes. He can help me to become a better rider. Each step is important at this level."

LottoNL-Jumbo trainer Mathieu Heijboer said the team will help Vermeulen develop his climbing and time trial skills during the 2016 season.

"He has had proper training at BMC, now he gets to discover his specialities," Heijboer said. "Is he best suited for tours with steep climbs or is he better on the longer climbs? It will be exciting to discover, but it is evident that Alexey is a real GC rider.

"We'll also see if he can come and live in Girona, so he can train with riders like Robert Gesink and Steven Kruijswijk, from whom he can learn a lot."

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