Rally Cycling ended speculation today about where up-and-coming American Brandon McNulty will race next year, announcing that the 20-year-old will return to the US Pro Continental team for at least one more season.
McNulty – the 2016 junior time trial world champion – joined Rally in 2017, but suffered a broken hip in an early-season crash that derailed much of his season. He recovered in time to take silver in the U23 Worlds time trial in Bergen, Norway, and then turned his attention to this year.
He started his season in the Middle East and immediately put the peloton on notice at the Dubai Tour, where he went on a solo fly near the end of the queen stage to Hatta Dam and came up 50 metres short of stealing the stage win. He went on to finish 14th overall. Back in Europe, McNulty took top-15 finishes at both the GP Miguel Indurain and the Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta one-day races in Spain, and then went to Portugal in mid-April to finish second on a stage of GP Beiras and take fifth overall.
His return to the States and the Tour of California exceeded expectations, as McNulty's consistent performances culminated with fourth on the queen stage to South Lake Tahoe and seventh overall. He travelled back to Europe with the US national team in August, finishing third overall at the Tour Alsace before nearly winning a stage of the Tour de l'Avenir. He was beaten by Ivan Sosa of Colombia after raising his arms before the finish line.
The results, especially his performance at the California race, increased speculation that WorldTour teams might be knocking on his door and ringing up his phone. But McNulty chose to stick with Rally as the American team expands its European calendar.
"Rally Cycling offers me a low pressure environment to continue to grow and develop and lay the foundations of a lengthy career in the sport," McNulty said in a statement release by the team.
"It's tough when you have some of the biggest teams offering you a spot, but for me I think it's best to have another year to develop and improve. After all, I'm still only 20 years old, so there's no rush to be at the highest level of the sport."
McNulty said his personal highlight for this year was seeing the Rally programme grow and find its spot in the European peloton.
"We were able to get some solid results early this season in Europe and California," he said. "And then the guys finished off the year with a huge win in Norway, and the KOM jersey in Germany. It was all really cool to see and be a part of."
Team director Pat McCarty was obviously pleased to retain the young talent as the team hopes to grow, but he said McNulty's decision to stay with Rally was good for everyone involved.
"Irrespective of his tremendous talent, Brandon is still a young rider that needs to make the right steps at the right time," McCarty said. "With our programme growing the way we are, we will provide the best next steps for him next season. Brandon really likes the team and all of his teammates as well."
The team's all-North American roster, unique for a Pro Continental team, is another draw for young talent.
"Our intention has always been to put a group of riders together that work and get along with each other," McCarty said. "We're trying to keep the programme all North American, and we always try to keep the harmony with the core group of riders and new recruits. Even with WorldTour offers, it's hard to deny we're still the best fit for Brandon."
McNulty will next race with Rally at the two upcoming WorldTour one-day races in Canada: the GP Cycliste de Québec on September 7 and the GP Cycliste de Montréal on September 9. From there he'll turn his focus to the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, from September 22-30.
McNulty will represent Team USA and will look to improve on his silver medal ride in the U23 time trial from a year ago.