Having helped Esteban Chaves to the overall podium of the Giro d'Italia in May and Vuelta a Espana in September, Damien Howson has been rewarded with Orica-BikeExchange handing the 24-year-old a two-year extension.
The former U23 time trial world champion has enjoyed a breakout season with a podium finish at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, second in the young rider classification at the Tour de Romandie and his grand tour performances.
"After the Vuelta last year I have really focused on becoming an asset in the mountains, trying to help our leaders achieve their goals. I feel like I’ve taken a large step forward in my development and I really want to continue that path with the team," Howson said.
"I want to use the experience I already have as a stepping stone to become even better at helping out in the finals of the Grand Tours and I really appreciate the support the team has given me to be where I am now as a rider."
Orica-BikeExchange director sportif Matt White explained that having witnessed Howson come on in leaps and bounds in 2016, he is pleased the South Australian will continue to develop with with the team.
"Damien has taken a huge step up since last year and what he has been able to achieve in the Grand Tours is certainly a credit to his hard work and dedication," White said.
"He has become a very valuable and consistent rider in mountain stages and has developed into a super domestique who can also achieve results on his own."
White added that he was particularly pleased with the climbing progression Howson has and believes he will continue to be a key asset to Orica-BikeExchange's grand tour plans in the years to come.
"It’s very rare that you see riders climbing as well as him who can also produce world class time trials. He will definitely be a big part of our Grand Tour plans for the coming years," he said.
The Australian WorldTour team have also extended with young talents Caleb Ewan, Adam Yates and Simon Yates,and welcomed onboard Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep), Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff), Roger Kluge (IAM Cycling).