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Cullaigh to turn pro with Movistar

 Gabriel Cullaigh (Team Wiggins)

Gabriel Cullaigh (Team Wiggins)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Movistar have made their first signing for 2020, handing a first professional contract to the British sprinter and Classics prospect Gabriel Cullaigh.

Cullaigh, who won a stage of the Volta ao Alentejo earlier this year, joins on a two-year deal, becoming only the third British to ride for the Spanish squad in their 40-year history, after Jeremy Hunt and Alex Dowsett.

Cullaigh finished third in the U23 Gent-Wevelgem in 2016 and joined SEG Racing, a well-established development team, in 2017. However, breathing problems, which were later corrected by surgery, disrupted his progress, and he returned to Britain with Team Wiggins.

In 2018 he won two stages at Alentejo, along with the Rutland-Melton Classic in the UK, a race he might have won again this year had he not celebrated too early.

"Over the moon to share the news that I have signed with Movistar for 2020 and 2021,” Cullaigh wrote on Twitter. “I am incredibly excited and honoured for this opportunity to be a part of a team with such a rich history in the sport.

"There are too many people to thank for getting me here, but i'd like to say a special thank you to those that stuck by me through it all, especially all the Team Wiggins riders and staff, Andrew McQuaid at Trinity Sports who always kept belief, Kurt Bogaerts, who whipped me into shape the past two years and restored a lot of confidence in myself. And finally my family and close friends who have ridden the rollercoaster with me all the way. Now I am learning Spanish, and excited to meet the team. Vamos.”

Cullaigh’s arrival adds versatility to the Spanish team, who are mainly set up for the Grand Tours and are thin on the ground when it comes to sprinters and Classics riders.

Movistar are expected to lose Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa, and Richard Carapaz this year, with Enric Mas expected to join from Deceuninck-QuickStep.