Climbing specialist from Cumbria spent past two years with Team Wiggins

Up-and-coming British rider James Knox, who is aged 21, has been signed by Quick Step Floors on a two-year contract.

The former National Hill Climb Champion finished eighth overall at the Tour of Croatia in April, a race won by Bahrain-Merida’s four-time Grand Tour winner, Vincenzo Nibali.

He joins the UCI WorldTour team after two years at Team Wiggins, where he competed this season in races including the Tour of Britain and the Tour de Yorkshire.

A climber, the rider from Cumbria also finished third in the mountains classification, and eighth overall, at the Tour de l’Avenir last month.

“It’s amazing to join Quick-Step Floors, who is a team that excels in so many areas, from having the best classics riders in the world to the best stages racers and best sprinters,” he said.

“On the whole, it’s a great outfit that always gets the most out of every rider, and personally I especially hope to develop my character as a climber, because it’s where I can excel the most.

“When that is said, I would like to develop every aspect of what it means to be a top professional rider and I think Quick-Step Floors provides the best opportunity for just that.”

Reflecting on his progress to date, he said: “I am really happy with my season so far. I have managed to take a step up from knocking on the door last year to be close this year with a few second places.

“Runner-up in [the under-23 race at] Liège – a race I dream of winning as a pro – was great and from there on to get good results over the whole season gives me motivation and confidence to take the next step up the ladder at Quick-Step Floors.

“I’m very happy and proud that the things I’ve achieved have attracted the attention of a team like Quick-Step Floors.”

He also had thoughts for his past teams – not just the one where he spent the past two years, but also the development squad he rode with earlier founded and run by the Oxford-based Italian ex-pro, Flavio Zappi.

He said:  “I owe all the staff at Team Wiggins a huge thanks for helping me reach my achievements over the season and progress as a rider over the last two years, and I also want to mention Flavio Zappi, who has meant a great deal and really sized my career as an under 23.

“He has a big part in that I am today able to sign the contract with Quick-Step Floors.”

His new team’s CEO, Patrick Lefevere, said: “James was on our radar for some time and we closely monitored his progression this season, but it wasn’t only his results that caught our attention, also his right attitude and commitment towards the sport were equally impressive.

“He’s a very promising climber and we’ll carefully nurture his talent in the years to come, while at the same time helping him adapt to the demanding pro life.”

Knox heads to Bergen, Norway next week where he will be one of the riders representing Great Britain in the men’s under-23 road race at the UCI Road World Championships.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.