Three WorldTour teams will give opportunities to young riders: it was announced today by Omega Pharma-QuickStep that French promise Julian Alaphilippe signed on from the squad's development program to a two-year contract, Saxo-Tinkoff announced it signed Denmark's Michael Valgren to a three-year deal, and BMC is calling up three riders from its development teams, Silvan Dillier, Jakub Novak and Julien Taramarcaz, as trainees for the remainder of the season.
Valgren, 21, currently racing with Team Cult Energy, won the U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege two years in a row in addition to a stage and the overall in Fleche du Sud.
"I'm delighted to have agreed to a deal with Michael. He is without a doubt one of the biggest prospects in Danish cycling in many years, and I look very much forward to start working with him," said Saxo-Tinkoff team owner Bjarne Riis. "He has great potential and everything it takes to become successful, but there is also room for improvements, which says a lot about his talent," Riis added, but also emphasizes that the focus will be on steady progression and not results.
Alaphilippe, 21, comes from the Omega Pharma-QuickStep satellite team Continental Team Etixx-iHNed, and is the French under-23 cyclo-cross champion in addition to having three road victories.
"Julian's arrival to our team is the result of the work and the structure that is behind the OPQS team and of our investment in young athletes," Team Manager Patrick Lefevere said. "Alaphilippe is without a doubt just the first in a series of athletes who, in the future, will wear our jersey after having worn the Etixx-iHNed jersey."
Another cyclo-cross racer will hit the WorldTour: Swiss rider Julien Taramarcaz from the BMC mountain bike team, was called up as a trainee to BMC's WorldTour squad, together with Swiss U23 road champion Silvan Dillier and Czech U23 time trial champion Jakub Novak.
"All three have shown the talent we are looking for when we evaluate young riders," said manager Jim Ochowicz. "They will be able to gain valuable experience that builds on what they have already learned in the BMC programs."