Joining compatriots Stuart O'Grady and Matthew White at Giancarlo Ferretti's new team in 2006 will be New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS) cyclist Chris Sutton. In March this year, Sutton was offered a place at Cofidis, however the opportunity to ride with one of his long time idols in O'Grady was an important part of his decision to join Sony Ericsson.
"Chris has always looked up to riders like Bradley McGee and Stuart O'Grady. The chance to be part of the team which included Stuart played a big part in the decision he made," said Chris' father Gary Sutton, who is also the head coach of the NSWIS cycling program.
"This is a great opportunity for Chris to develop as a rider. During his career so far, he has been fortunate to have had the support of Bradley and Rodney McGee at the McGee-NSWIS Cycling Program, and recently Brian Stephens in the AIS U23 road program. He will now be working with Giancarlo Ferretti at Sony Ericsson which is fantastic," he said.
Chris Sutton's deal comes on the back of what has been an outstanding 2005 season. He was crowned the Australian U23 men's road race champion at the start of this year before joining Brian Stephens and the AIS squad in Europe. He went on to become the first Australian to win the prestigious Gran Premio Liberazione race in Italy and last month finished fifth in the U23 men's road race at the world championships in Spain.
Sutton is the second athlete from the McGee-NSWIS Cycling squad to sign a professional contract with a European team, with Mark Renshaw joining Francaise des Jeux at the end of 2003. The McGee-NSWIS Cycling squad was established by current NSWIS scholarship holder and Tour de France rider Bradley McGee in 2002. Funded by McGee, the program aims to develop talented young Australian riders to compete on the lucrative European road racing circuit.