The 2020 NTT Continental Cycling Team – the under-23 feeder squad for the WorldTour NTT Pro Cycling team – has all but finalised its 2020 line-up of 11 riders, with the winner of the upcoming Zwift Academy competition to take the final spot.
Based in Lucca, Italy, for a fifth consecutive season, the team sees five of its 2019 roster graduate to senior professional teams, with U23 road race world champion Samuele Battistella and Matteo Sobrero stepping up to the NTT WorldTour squad, Alexander Konychev joining WorldTour team Mitchelton-Scott, Mulu Hailemichael heading to Pro Continental team Delko Marseille Provence and Luca Mozzato going to Pro Conti outfit B&B Hotels-Vital Concept.
Four young Italians – Samuele Rubino, Leonardo Marchiori, Riccardo Bobbo and Mattia Guasco – come into the team, as do South Africa's Marc Pritzen, Eritrea's Henok Mulueberhan Solomon and Negasi Abreha of Ethiopea.
South Africa's Conor Brown, Eritrean Natnael Tesfazion and Slovenian Martin Lavric are retained, with the latter having won last season's Zwift Academy indoor-cycling competition to earn a place on the 2019 team, and having impressed team management enough to also earn a place for 2020.
The team's 11th and final rider for 2020 will be announced at their training camp in December, following the final phase of this year's Zwift competition, with either the Netherlands' Mathijs Loman, Drew Christensen or Campbell Pithie – both of New Zealand – taking the final place.
"This team is going from strength to strength, year on year, and culminated in a world champion this year in Samuele Battistella, who now joins the NTT Pro Cycling Team in the WorldTour," said NTT Pro Cycling Team Principal Doug Ryder in a press release.
"Each year we look to this team for riders to join our UCI World Team, and each year one or two riders step up as neo-pros.
"2020 is an incredible year for the development teams of UCI World Teams. Riders registered with a development team may participate in UCI ProSeries or Class 1 events with the related UCI World Team at any time in the season," he continued, highlighting a new UCI rule introduced for next year that should see senior teams testing out feeder-team riders to give them experience, or even to cover injury or illness.
"This will create opportunities for young riders that were not there before, and make the NTT Pro Cycling team stronger. We are better together," he said.
"We are very excited about continuing with our development programme under our rebranded title partner, NTT, in 2020," added Continental team manager Kevin Campbell.
"The 2019 cycling season was a successful year for our team, and we hope to build on these successes with a new roster of talented African and Italian riders. With eight new riders in our line-up next year, they'll have a lot to learn, but we believe in their talent, and we look forward to helping them grow as athletes and as people," he said.