By Agence France Presse

Bouygues Telecom has signed a former Japanese national champion for the 2009 season, the French team announced Tuesday.

Yukira Arashiro, the Japanese champion in 2007, becomes one of just a few riders from his country to be given a chance to compete in the European peloton.

Bouygues is hoping the 24-year-old, who is said to be comfortable on most types of terrain, will show his full potential in one of cycling’s three grand tours.

“Welcoming a promising Japanese cyclist to our team shows we are aware of and ready to explore emerging talents elsewhere in the world,” said team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau.

A professional in Japanese teams since 2006, Arashiro won a stage on the Tour of Limousin in France in August and finished the race third overall.

“He likes to go on long breakaways, he’s fast and he’s comfortable on small climbs,” said Bernaudeau. “We’d like to see him race a three-week tour and see what he’s capable of this year.”