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EF Education-Nippo confirm signing of Mark Padun

Ukrainian Mark Padun of Bahrain Victorious celebrates after winning the last stage of the 73rd edition of the Criterium du Dauphine cycling race from La Lechere to Les Gets France Sunday 06 June 2021BELGA PHOTO DAVID STOCKMAN Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images
Padun winning the final stage of the 2021 Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

EF Education-Nippo confirmed the arrival of Ukrainian Mark Padun to the team in 2022 on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old announced last month he would be leaving Bahrain Victorious after four seasons and "starting the new chapter of my career with another team which will be announced later".

There had been speculation that the Critérium du Dauphiné stage winner would head to Ineos Grenadiers, but Cyclingnews broke the news that he would go to EF-Nippo, along with other new arrivals including James Shaw, Merhawi Kudus, Ben Healy, Owain Doull, Esteban Chaves and Christian Odd Eiking.

EF Education-Nippo confirmed the arrival of Ukrainian Mark Padun to the team in 2022 on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old announced last month he would be leaving Bahrain Victorious after four seasons and "starting the new chapter of my career with another team which will be announced later".

There had been speculation that the Critérium du Dauphiné stage winner would head to Ineos Grenadiers, however, Cyclingnews reported that he would go to EF-Nippo, along with other new arrivals including James Shaw, Merhawi Kudus, Ben Healy, Owain Doull, Esteban Chaves and Christian Odd Eiking.

Padun earned his berth in the WorldTour after winning stages of the Baby Giro and Valle d'Aosta U23 stage races, signing with Bahrain McLaren in 2018. He won a stage of the Tour of the Alps in his first season, then won the overall and a stage at the Adriatica Ionica Race in 2019. His 2020 season was less successful, but this year he came out strong with back-to-back stage wins in the Dauphiné and the mountains jersey but was not given a spot on Bahrain Victorious' team for the Tour de France.

"I want to become a rider for Grand Tours," Padun said in the EF-Nippo press release. "I believe that I can do it because all of the people who have been working with me have told me that I have talent. I understand that I have to improve to meet this goal so I'm still working on this but I believe it is possible."

He said the team laid out extensive details of what they have planned for him, and CEO Jonathan Vaughters offered a few of the team's expectations.

"I fully expect him to win his first stage of a Grand Tour in the next couple of years," Vaughters said. "I have no doubt that he'll do that. I know he can find the right breakaway in a mountain stage and climb away from everyone else and win stages. I know he can do that in Grand Tours. Whether he can expand on that to win mountain jerseys or contend in the general classification, that part we have to find out. But for this year, let's focus on a couple of stage wins. I'm 100 per cent confident he can do it."

Vaughters said the Tour de France was the team's biggest frustration this year, and they came away without a stage win or a top finish in the general classification.

Padun might be the team's answer for 2022. "I see him as one of the biggest talents in modern cycling right now," Vaughters said. "He's been an extremely inconsistent talent but on his good days, he's proven that he's one of the very best climbers in the world. It's our job to figure out how to get him a few more of those good days and work on the consistency a little bit."

Vaughters had his eye on Padun who he says has the ability to pick the right breakaway and is strong enough to climb and ride in the wind.

Padun says he hopes to focus on stage races over the classics, even though he is "quite a heavy guy".

"After one week or ten days, I still enjoy racing," Padun says. "It's not that I don't like one-day races but I like stage races much better. You can always try to be there battling for a result. I'm not a pure climber. I'm quite a heavy guy but most of my success I obtained by climbing."

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