Jacob Rathe and Alex Howes will ride for Garmin-Cervelo in 2012, moving up from the team’s U23 development team. Both riders have penned two-year contracts with Jonathan Vaughters’ WorldTour team.
"Jacob has just been a consistent performer all year. He started out riding well at the beginning of the year. Then he was third at the U23 Paris-Roubaix and then at the nationals he was again one of the strongest guys. He didn’t win but he helped a teammate win so he was right there," said Vaughters.
"Wining a stage at the Tour of Portugal sealed the deal. You can get lucky once in a race and pop into form but when you perform day in day out like he has been then that’s talent. That’s not a fluke."
Rathe will join up with the professionals at end of the season. Next season he will compete in a number of one day races, with Vaughters of the opinion that he could be a strong Classics rider. Howes, who Cyclingnews featured last month, has been part of Sliptream’s ranks 2007 and has risen from the junior ranks. He has performed well in a number of stage races this year.
Vaughters has a number of places to fill for 2012. Thor Hushovd is the biggest departure in name but the majority of the Australian wing are also set to leave. Alex Rasmussen has been brought in to strengthen the team, along with Sebastian Rosseler.
Rathe and Howes may mark the start but Vaughters may turn to his young fledglings again before the end of the season, choosing to promote one or two more riders.
"It will probably be three or four guys from the U23 team onto the ProTour. That’s a pretty big turnover but that’s one of the things that I really wanted to do this year. They’ve been one of the best Continental teams in the world for 18 months and I wanted so show them that I would reward their faith and riding with a spot.
"I want the most talented juniors to want to come onto the Continental programme because they know that I will open up a few spots on the Proteam. I feel that’s the best way for the long term development of cycling."
One rider that Vaughters hasn’t decided on is Thomas Dekker. The rider came back from a two-year suspension in July and rode for the U23 team in Portugal. He pulled out of the race with a knee injury and Vaughters admitted that he needed to see more of the Dutchman before deciding if he will sign him for next year. Dekker will race in the U23 programme again this year though.
"He’s was obviously struggling with the speed and the heat in Portugal and it was hard race to come back in. He’s got some work to do but I think he knew that before the Tour of Portugal so he’s got a way to go. He’s going to have to keep working and see where that leads him.
"I know Thomas is doing some races with the Dutch national team and he’s got some opportunities with them and he’ll be doing some of the late season time trials. I’m obviously watching with curiosity."