Alex Dowsett, who lines up for Great Britain in the World Championship Under-23 Time Trial in Geelong tomorrow, is one of three new signings for Team Sky announced this morning. Besides the Trek-Livestrong prospect, two riders are arriving from Caisse d’Epargne – the 23-year-old Colombian Rigoberto Urán, and the Spaniard Xabier Zandio, aged 33.
Team Principal Dave Brailsford said: "These signings will strengthen our squad even further for our second season on the road. Rigoberto and Xabier join from Caisse d'Epargne and both should come to the fore in the mountains in the Grand Tours, an area we have been keen to focus on.
"Rigoberto is a super-talented rider who has some great results to his name this year and we are delighted that he has committed his future to Team Sky. He's a young rider with fantastic prospects, exactly the sort of person we have been keen to get on board. He's an excellent climber who has already shone in the Grand Tour environment and I'm sure he will continue to go from strength to strength,” he added.
Despite his relative youth, Urán is already carving out something of a reputation for himself, his first major victory being a stage in the 2007 Tour de Suisse when he was riding for Unibet.
In 2008, he joined Caisse d’Epargne, finishing third in that year’s Giro di Lombardia. This season he competed in both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta, twice securing top-ten stage finishes in the latter, and also finished seventh overall in the Tour de Suisse, his performances propelling him into the top 100 of the UCI World Rankings.
"Xabier is a rock-solid climber who brings us real experience; he is someone who will give his teammates absolutely everything in the mountains on exactly the sort of stages which decide Grand Tours."
Zandio has spent his whole career with Caisse d’Epargne, joining the outfit in 2001 when it was called iBanesto. A domestique who specialises in climbing, he has ridden in ten Grand Tours, including five consecutive participations in the Tour de France.
With Dowsett’s signing, there are now nine British riders in the Team Sky roster, of whom six are aged 25 or under. Brailsford said: “I'm delighted that Alex is joining us; he's a young rider who has come through the British system with flying colours and will fit perfectly into our set-up.
"We know just how talented Alex is and he's been showing that this year, winning the Under-23 individual time trial at the European Championships in Turkey this summer and getting some excellent results for the Trek-Livestrong U-23 squad.”
Those results include spending a day in the race leader’s jersey at the Tour de l’Avenir, and Brailsford added: “He's a real all-rounder with an incredibly bright future and we are looking forward to him developing with us at Team Sky and achieving his full potential.
"These three new additions sum up our squad perfectly - a blend of developing talent and Grand Tour experience with a strong British influence at the heart of it," he concluded.
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.