Lotto-Belisol have signed 20-year-old Louis Vervaeke from its U23 team on a two-and-a-half year contract. The 20-year-old recently impressed with overall victory at the Tour des Pays de Savoie which included victory on the final stage to Plateau des Glières.
"Giving young talents from our own ranks the opportunity to grow is one of our goals," Lotto Belisol manager Marc Sergeant said of Vervaeke who is is riding the Tour of Austria.
"The step from the U23 to the WorldTour is big and not easy, but I dare to say Louis is ready. He proved the past months again what he is capable of and that has made us even more sure that at Lotto Belisol he can become a good rider.
"In Belgium there aren't so many youngsters that can climb. It seemed opportune to let him come over in the middle of the year – just like Tim Wellens two years ago – because that way Louis can get to know the kind of racing on the highest level in a relaxed manner."
For Vervaeke, who also won the Ronde de l'Isard overall, the move to the WorldTour team is a dream come true.
"I'm very enthusiast about my transfer to the pros," Vervaeke said. "That's the dream of each youth rider and definitely to sign with a WorldTour team. The past months it turned out that I'm ready to start a new part in my career.
"Look at my victories in the Tour de l'Isard and Tour des Pays de Savoie. The race in Savoie is even tougher; that I could win again there made me even more confident. I find it important to stay in a Belgian team. Some people of the U23 team will be around me in the pro team as well, like sports director Kurt Van de Wouwer. That will definitely help. I'm looking forward to get to know everybody."
Vervaeke isn't placing any lofty expectations on his performance with the team for the remainder of the year as he explained although as a climber,stage races are where his ambitions lie.
"At the moment I don't have too great expectations for my first months in the pro peloton," he said. "It's difficult to put forward a concrete goal. Together with the team we've decided that the first half year will be to learn. Climbing is my biggest specialty. Next to that I'm also a good time trialist.
"These two factors come in handy in stage races. Races of only one day are less my cup of tea, I'm not so explosive. I'm better when I can do tough efforts a few days in a row."