Prior to now, riders youthful than 23 have been thought of to be future prospects and the time period ‘espoir’, which implies hope, outlined the age bracket of growing riders. Prior to now few years, nevertheless, younger riders have change into a dominant power in skilled biking and a rising contingent is graduating from the junior ranks into the WorldTour.
The category of 2023 is following the pattern, particularly within the Ladies’s WorldTour the place at the least six 18-year-olds have signed with groups. Two juniors have moved into the WorldTour, with American AJ August the youngest, singing to Ineos Grenadiers on a three-year contract.
Different riders have bided their time and spent just a few seasons in under-23/improvement groups however at the moment are prepared to interrupt by way of on the highest stage.
A neo-pro is a rider within the first yr of knowledgeable contract above the Continental stage, and we have chosen 10 of essentially the most thrilling WorldTour debutants to regulate within the coming season.
AJ August (Ineos Grenadiers by way of 2026)
Andrew “AJ” August simply turned 18 on October 12, 2023, however he already had a three-year contract to race with the Ineos Grenadiers in hand. Hailing from Pittsford, New York, a small city outdoors Rochester, August raced with the distinguished junior staff Sizzling Tubes and first caught the eye of European followers when he received the Koppenbergcross junior cyclocross race final yr.
That end result had adopted a summer season the place August dipped his toe into European racing and got here away with high 10s within the Internationale Juniordriedaagse within the Netherlands, the Junioren Rundfahrt in Austria, a stage win within the Watersley Junior Problem and second total on the Ronde des Vallées in 2022.
With a base of success already constructing, he went on this yr to win a stage of the Redlands Bicycle Traditional and take second total within the elites, second total within the Course de la Paix Juniors Nations Cup, the US junior time trial title, after which two phases of the Ain Bugey Valromey Tour – each on mountaintop finishes – and the general classification.
Ineos have such confidence on this younger American they’ve given him a contract by way of 2026, one yr longer than the standard neo-pro deal.
Izzy Sharp (Lidl-Trek by way of 2026)
One other rider who simply turned 18 and signed a three-year WorldTour contract is British multi-discipline powerhouse Izzy Sharp.
Sharp has demonstrated her abilities each on the monitor and within the Classics, with European titles within the Madison and Factors Race, the Junior World Championship within the Crew Pursuit and on the highway with a win within the Gent-Wevelgem junior race, the Omloop Borsele the place she received the time trial, and a silver medal on the World Championships in Glasgow within the junior time trial.
She named Ellen van Dijk as one in every of her idols within the staff’s signing announcement.
“I am actually excited but in addition nervous on the similar time,” Sharp stated. “It is a large step however I am actually blissful to have the assist of my dream staff as I head into the world of elite biking. Lidl-Trek has all the time been my dream staff and I feel it speaks volumes whenever you see that a number of riders have remained with the staff long-term with a number of one of the best, invested sponsors.”
The staff plan to maintain Sharp on a extra gradual path however Sharp has proven nice potential and will shine in 2024.
Luke Lamperti (Soudal-Fast-Step by way of 2025)
The three-time US criterium champion might most likely have gone professional sooner however opted to finish a 3rd under-23 yr with Trinity Racing earlier than making the leap, signing with Patrick Lefevere’s outfit for 2 years.
Lefevere referred to as him “some of the gifted riders coming from the U23 ranks”, and stated, “he has a number of potential and an enormous love for the Classics.”
Lamperti confirmed his abilities as a junior, successful two phases of the Tour of Eire and a stage of the GP Rüebliland however his title first landed on the radar when he beat all of the elites to win the US criterium title in 2021, changing into the youngest rider to take action. He had a strong end result on the 2021 Worlds within the under-23 race however was disqualified for an incident early within the race.
Stage wins within the Volta ao Alentejo, Circuit des Ardennes, Tour de Bretagne, Tour of Japan (and the factors classification) and Giro Subsequent Gen this yr confirmed Lamperti is prepared for the massive leagues – he’ll simply have to decide on a much less apparent nickname as a result of Lampy’s already taken by Yves Lampaert.
Fleur Moors (Lidl-Trek by way of 2025)
Belgian Fleur Moors landed a two-year contract with Lidl-Trek and is a part of a gaggle of 4 junior riders stepping up with the American staff subsequent season.
Moors received the European highway race title for juniors, was third within the World Championships and received a stage of the Watersley Problem Juniors.
She acknowledged the shortage of a cohesive under-23 path for ladies and stated, “It is a large step” becoming a member of the WorldTour. However like Sharp, sports activities director Ina-Yoko Teutenberg has a plan to present the entire juniors an opportunity to search out their means.
“She is simply turning 18 in a sport which does not have a simple step between the junior ranks and the professionals. Her bronze at Worlds and gold at Euros present that she is an thrilling expertise,” Teutenberg stated.
Isaac Del Toro (UAE Crew Emirates by way of 2026)
Isaac Del Toro is on monitor to change into a serious biking hero for Mexico, having received the Tour de l’Avenir and earned a three-year contract with UAE Crew Emirates.
Like many North Individuals, Del Toro began his biking pursuits off-road, racing on the world stage final yr in mountain bike and cyclocross, however his stage flew underneath the radar in his first European season. Regardless of fracturing his femur in coaching in August 2022, Del Toro returned for a robust exhibiting in Europe, steadily rising by way of the ranks and ending on the rostrum of the Valle d’Aosta earlier than beginning the Tour de l’Avenir.
Del Toro made the successful transfer on stage 6 to the Col de la Loze and beat Israel-Premier Tech’s Matthew Riccitello to the stage win to maneuver from twenty second to 3rd total. He misplaced time to race chief Riccitello within the time trial however gained again 25 seconds on the subsequent stage’s summit end. The following day, Del Toro went on the assault, gaining sufficient time on the final climb to grab the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Riccitello.
Julie Bego (Cofidis)
The junior world champion will graduate to Cofidis in 2024 after doing a stint with the staff as a trainee this yr. Bego acquired her begin in cyclocross as a precocious 16-year-old, racing as a junior early as a result of her January birthday. She landed on the rostrum in her first try on the nationwide championships and received her first nationwide collection race the subsequent yr at 17.
Her cyclocross pursuits take a backseat to the highway and have been restricted to the French nationwide collection. Bego’s first main end result got here within the Tour du Gévaudan Occitanie femmes nation’s cup in 2022 and 2023 the place she completed second total after stellar rides to the aérodrome in Mende on the ‘Montée Jalabert’.
This season an total victory within the Bizkaikoloreak two-day stage race preceded her Worlds victory in Glasgow. Bego plans to proceed finding out whereas racing with Cofidis.
“I actually wish to see the way it goes, see the extent, perceive the place I stand,” Bego stated. “Subsequent yr shall be a yr of discovery with the thought of doing as many races as potential to study. Residing in Chambéry, I recognize lengthy climbs, I’ve a climber-puncher aspect. I very I wish to put my qualities on the service of the Cofidis collective!”
Jan Christen (UAE Crew Emirates by way of 2028)
The Swiss rider inked one of many longest WorldTour contracts, committing to UAE Crew Emirates by way of 2028. Solely two different riders have mapped out their futures that far: Kasper Borremans, who’s in Bahrain Victorious’ improvement membership and has promised to affix the WorldTour in 2027-2028, and Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech).
Mauro Gianetti stated the staff has been following Christen and are prepared to present him an opportunity to step up. “He’s a really younger rider who we hope can proceed to develop and develop each as a bicycle owner and as an individual in our staff.”
Christen has additionally put his foot within the mud in cyclocross, successful the junior world title in Fayetteville in 2022, and has been equally profitable on the highway, successful the Swiss time trial title twice, the European highway race in 2022, the Tour du Pays de Vaud, a stage of the Giro Subsequent Gen this yr and high tens within the GC on the Giro and Tour de l’Avenir.
“I am very blissful to make this step in my profession and I am grateful for the belief that Mauro, Matxin and UAE Crew Emirates have proven in me. I am becoming a member of one of many greatest and greatest groups and I am very excited for the years forward but in addition so grateful to Hagens Berman Axeon for the dear expertise these months and for the alternatives they gave me.
“The primary intention now’s to study and develop as a lot as potential and discover my toes within the professional peloton and rating quickly my first professional win. It is a dream change into actuality and I can not wait to get began.”
Isabella Holmgren (Lidl-Trek by way of 2025)
Twin sisters Isabella and Ava Holmgren made historical past for Canada as the primary riders to win medals on the UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Hoogerheide this yr, with Isabella claiming the rainbow jersey and Ava the silver medal. Each have signed with Lidl-Trek by way of 2025 and it is powerful to choose which one to observe in 2024 as they’re equally gifted.
Isabella Holmgren made our record due to her double rainbow yr: she received the MTB World Championships junior cross nation race together with a high 10 within the highway race in Glasgow this yr and the Pan-American Cyclocross title within the elites.
“Being part of a WorldTour Crew was a long-term aim of mine, so to have been approached with this superb alternative popping out of the junior class was barely surprising, however very thrilling,” Isabella Holmgren stated within the staff’s signing announcement.
Josu Larrazabal, Lidl-Trek’s head of efficiency, defined why the staff picked up so many riders from the junior ranks. “We consider it makes extra sense to suit a improvement construction inside our WorldTour program, which is able to enable the youthful riders the prospect to trip smaller races while surrounded by skilled professionals to assist information them. If the time is true and the traits swimsuit them, these growing riders can even get an opportunity to trip WorldTour races from time to time.”
Antonio Morgado (UAE Crew Emirates by way of 2027)
The Portuguese rider is one other who has come by way of Axel Merckx’s Hagens Berman Axeon staff, however even earlier than that, he confirmed himself as a prolific winner. He claimed 48 victories together with a dozen stage race total classifications, the double junior Portuguese highway titles in 2022, the under-23 TT title this yr together with the UCI 2.2-ranked Tour of Rhodes and the silver medal within the under-23 race at Worlds in Glasgow.
Morgado is wanting ahead to a four-year stint with UAE Crew Emirates.
“I am arriving to the staff with a number of want and ambition. I am very blissful to have this chance, I’ve all the time dreamed of this,” he stated within the staff announcement. “The folks I do know within the staff have spoken very extremely about it and I am thrilled to be part of it. I am able to work exhausting to realize nice issues collectively right here at UAE.”