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Seven notable neo-pros of 2014

These WorldTour rookies impressed on the bike this season, earning podium spots and top-10s throughout the year

MILAN (VN) — The 2014 cycling season showed neo-pros not just ready to learn, but to impress in their debut year. Yates twins Adam and Simon, Nairo Quintana’s younger brother, Dayer and many more challenged the seasoned cyclists for wins. VeloNews highlights seven stand-out debutants.

Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge): The Brit had the most impressive debut in the UCI WorldTour ranks this year thanks to several wins — the Tour of Turkey and GP Industria e Commercio (ahead of Davide Formolo, below) — and placings – sixth in the Critérium du Dauphiné and fifth in the Amgen Tour of California.

“This year has just been a learning experience,” he told VeloNews, indicating fans will see much more from him in 2015. The expectation is that Yates will win more week-long stage races in 2015 and become Britain’s next Tour de France challenger.

Simon Yates (Orica): The 22-year-old, alongside Adam, should also dominate stage races in the coming years. He lacked Adam’s wins, but he made his Tour de France debut in 2014.

“The Tour de France is not Turkey,” Yates said in July. “I can look forward to a grand tour and not feel so nervous about it, and have that experience of doing a longer race than normal.”

Lawson Craddock (Giant-Shimano): The Texan ended his season with a series of DNFs, but that should not cast a shadow over his 2014 season. While settling into the Dutch WorldTour team, he placed third overall and won the youth classification in the Amgen Tour of California, and made his grand tour debut at the Vuelta a España. Wins, perhaps in a stage race, appear to be around the corner in 2015.

“You have this crop of young riders coming up,” the 22-year-old explained. “We’ve all raced against each for the past couple of years. To see them get success, you think that could be you up there as well.”

Davide Formolo (Cannondale): The 22-year-old from Verona recorded his best result of the year after 220 kilometers in the Italian National Championships, finishing second behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) who one month later won the Tour de France. Like Nibali, he considers himself a climber.

Jonathan Vaughters said of his new rider, “[He] can already lead the team in week-long stage races and will apprentice to [Ryder] Hesjedal in the 2015 Giro.”

Dayer Quintana (Movistar): Quintana’s debut was not as impressive as his older brother Nairo’s in 2012, but is worth noting. The 22-year-old Colombian won the summit finish to Kitzbüheler Horn, at 1,670 meters above sea level, in the Tour of Austria ahead of Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) and Peter Kennaugh (Sky).

He said in a press release afterwards, “This win convinces myself I’m not just Nairo’s brother — I can win as well, things are achievable when you take efforts.” After week-long stage races, Movistar should debut Quintana in a grand tour next year.

Dylan van Baarle (Garmin-Sharp): The Dutchman will likely keep one photograph at home to remember his 2014 season, the one of him standing on the podium as the Tour of Britain winner ahead of Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky). In 2015, fans could see more of the same.

“In the future I would like to develop into a classics rider, Paris-Roubaix and Flanders, and also in races like [the Tour of Britain],” he said in a press release. “I am probably too heavy to be a grand tour rider!”

Julian Alaphilippe (Omega Pharma): The Frenchman can charge up climbs and keep up during sprints, as he showed with his debut win in stage 4 of the Tour de l’Ain ahead of Daniel Martin (Garmin). He also placed fifth in the GP Ouest France-Plouay, a 229.1km race, behind winner Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling).

“It’s a matter of training and improving, and of course it’s also a question of experience,” Alaphilippe said in a press release. “I will work to improve in these kind of races.”

Besides the seven riders above, many more — including Chad Haga (Giant), Niccolò Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida), and Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka) — should be watched over during the 2015 season.