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Sean Quinn signs with EF Education-Nippo

Sean Quinn (Hagens Berman Axeon) won the Most Combative Rider prize on stage 5 of Tour de Wallonie 2021
Sean Quinn (Hagens Berman Axeon) won the Most Combative Rider prize on stage 5 of the Tour de Wallonie (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

EF Education-Nippo announced the signing of talented young American Sean Quinn for 2022. The 21-year-old has raced with Hagens Berman Axeon since 2019 and did a stint with Deceuninck-Quickstep as a trainee last year.

He will join another new signing, 22-year-old Marijn van den Berg (Groupama-FDJ Continental Team), as a newcomer to the WorldTour team next season.

Quinn started competing at the age of 10, coming up through the junior ranks with the Lux junior development team led by 1984 Olympic medalist Roy Knickman. Quinn excelled at stage races, winning the Tour of the Gila as an amateur in 2017 and finished top 10 in the U23 Giro in 2019.

After the 2020 season was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Quinn came out strong in 2021, winning the Classica da Arrabida - Cyclin'Portugal (UCI 1.2) in May and finishing the Volta ao Algarve as the best young rider in 14th.

"He's a climber," team CEO Jonathan Vaughters said, adding, "He's a big climber. He's not a tiny little guy but those are the kind of guys you want because a slightly larger framed climber tends to be a little bit more versatile in different types of terrain you can gamble with so we'll see where he fits in.

"I see him very much as a future Tour de France rider. He's a bigger, stronger kid that can handle the high speeds on the flats and then he can also climb which is what you need for the Tour de France."

A long time fan who comes from a family steeped in pro cycling, Quinn is looking forward to learning from his new teammates. "It's pretty cool to come to the team I rooted for the most while growing up. It had always been a dream in the back of my head to go to EF since I was younger," Quinn said.

"I just like hearing from guys with a lot more experience than me. A lot of veteran riders are on the team and it'll be really cool to ride with them and learn from there. I'm looking forward to having good people with a lot of good advice. I'm sure I'll still learn some stuff the hard way but that's life."

Van den Berg, a winner of two stages and the points classification at the 2021 Tour de l'Avenir, strengthens the team's sprint squad.

"He's a sprinter but he's actually a very strong sprinter," Vaughters said. "He's really good at team time trials – his team won the team time trial at the Tour de l'Avenir – and he climbs very well. He's not limited to being just a sprinter so he fits into that model of winning races in a non-sequitur way. He can win the sprint out of the breakaway, he can win the sprint out of a group of 40 or 50 that gets selected on a medium mountain day.

"That's much more attractive to me than a pure sprinter. Especially with the way cycling is moving, which is more and more of the courses are becoming hillier and harder and race promoters are increasing the number of vertical meters climbed in every race, I think he's the new type of sprinter that we're looking for on this team, productive even when the race is hard all day long."

Van den Berg took the plunge this season, moving from the comfort of the Dutch Metec-TKH continental squad to France to race with Groupama-FDJ's development team, and said it paid off.

"This year I made a big step moving to France. That was pretty big for me. It helped me grow up having to live on my own, cook for myself, do everything for myself. I think that's a good thing," Van den Berg said.

He started the season with a win at the GP Adria Mobil, won the opening stage of the Alpes Isère Tour and led for three stages, won the overall Orlen Nations GP and after his successful Tour de l'Avenir he finished third in the U23 Paris-Tours.

"I think this is the right moment for me to make the step to the pros and not really before. Now I'm a little bit more mature, not only in the races but also personally. I'm ready for the WorldTour," he said.

"I hope to get stronger like I've done every year. Every year, I've taken a step and gotten a little bit better, so if I can take another step next year, I hope that will get me to the right level for the WorldTour.

"I don't expect that I will win a stage in every race that I do. I can be happy if I have a few good results like a top ten or top five somewhere. I'm really curious where I stand in the WorldTour peloton."

EF Education-Nippo also announced the renewal of 22-year-old German rider Jonas Rutsch, who competed in his first Tour de France with the team this year.

Another tall rider who can climb, Rutsch impressed Vaughters with his performance at the Tour and at Paris-Roubaix, where he finished 11th in one of the toughest editions on record.

"This kid could be a future winner of Paris-Roubaix and this year we saw that potential come up," said Vaughters. "It could definitely be in his future, I have no doubt in my mind."

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