Ecuadorian road race and time trial champion Jonathan Caicedo has re-signed for 2020 with EF Education First, having now almost completed his first year at WorldTour level with the US team, which saw him take part in – and finish – his first Grand Tour.
The 26-year-old joined Jonathan Vaughters' team this year from Colombian Continental team Medellin, and started his season with a respectable 61st place at Strade Bianche. He went on to ride the Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Romandie stage races, and was then picked to ride the Giro d'Italia, where he finished 108th.
He then used that Grand Tour form to win both the road race and time trial national titles back home in Ecuador before returning to Europe to take fourth place overall at the Adriatica Ionica Race – clearly having got into the swing of European racing.
"At the beginning of this year, I raced some big races that were pretty tough for me, but they have given me so much experience," Caicedo said on his team's website. "I think this has been worth so much and has helped show how I've progressed. I have learned what it's like to race in Europe alongside this team, and I feel prepared to race more races like this going forward.
"Racing across in Europe always feels quite radical," he explained. "In how different these races are raced, you are confronted with another level pretty quickly over here. It's always difficult in the beginning, as you think to yourself that you're never going to get onto the same level as the riders over here."
Ahead of signing Caicedo, Vaughters admitted that he didn't know too much about Ecuadorian cycling, but had Caicedo recommended to him by Movistar's Richard Carapaz.
"He called himself Caicedo's biggest fan," explained Vaughters. "They grew up racing together."
And while Carapaz went on to win this year's Giro, and will next year join Team Ineos on a three-year contract, his compatriot Caicedo is happy to have got his first Grand Tour under his belt, and hopes to keep improving, with his team confident that he will.
"Caicedo has faced the familiar challenges for a young rider racing and living for the first time in Europe," EF Education First sports director Charly Wegelius said. "Nonetheless, he has shown glimpses of talent that proves he has a lot more to give if he has the time to adapt. Finishing the Giro was a big leap in his development, and I believe that he can build on this work over the winter and into next year."