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EF Education-Nippo will launch a development team in 2022.
The American squad announced Friday it has created a new UCI Continental-level team to feed future talent into its WorldTour setup and provide riders from around the globe the opportunity to flourish under a pro system.
“The idea has been developing over the years,” said Marcello Albasini, manager of EF Education-Nippo Development Team.
“We approached EF Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters to make an official development team, which he thought was a great idea because then they would have first choice of top athletes to then bring into the EF system … One of the guys turning pro with the EF Education-Nippo WorldTour squad is a goal we have in the first season.”
Albasini and a number of the riders on the new Education-Nippo Development Team were a part of the Swiss Nippo-Provence Conti-level team this season.
Like the WorldTour team of Rigoberto Urán, Esteban Chaves, Neilson Powless and Co., the devo squad will be based out of the U.S. and will be supplied with Cannondale bikes.
The announcement marks the latest development in language company EF Education First’s growing involvement in pro cycling.
The Swiss-based business last month became title backers of the women’s Tibco-SVB squad to form EF Education-Tibco-SVB. The long-running American outfit has also applied for a Women’s WorldTour license for 2022.
The new men’s EF Education Nippo Development Team hopes to nurture riders from nations often underrepresented in the pro peloton.
The 15-rider roster for 2022 includes five Japanese and five Swiss riders, along with racers from Ethiopia, Poland and Norway. Ethan Villaneda, 18, is the one U.S. rider on the team.
“It’s very important that the team doesn’t identify with one specific nation, saying ‘it’s an American team’ or ‘It’s only Swiss’ or ‘It’s only Japanese.’ It’s very much an international team,” Albasini said. “We want to bring talent from around the world and bring them into the professional system. It will be an international team where everybody can learn from one another.”
Team boss Jonathan Vaughters plans to leverage UCI rules allowing riders to move freely between a development team and its WorldTour counterpart to allow young talents the opportunity to get an early taste of top-tier racing.
“I think it’s really important for riders to have a team where they can learn but not be in over their heads right away. Since we can move riders between squads, that allows us to bring real experience to the younger team, both on the roads and at dinner tables,” Vaughters said.
“The educational and mentorship components are very important to us. We started as a development team years ago, so it’s fun to be part of this level of cycling again.”
EF Education-Nippo Development Team 2022:
- Hagos Berhe, Ethiopia
- Jonathan Bögli, Switzerland
- Trym Brennsaeter, Norway
- Fabio Christen, Switzerland
- Oliver Wulff Frederiksen, Denmark
- Masahiro Ishigami, Japan
- Luca Jenni, Switzerland
- Yusuke Kadota, Japan
- Kevin Kuhn, Switzerland
- Hijiri Oda, Japan
- Atsushi Oka, Japan
- Felix Stehli, Switzerland
- Szymon Tracz, Poland
- Yugi Tsuda, Japan
- Ethan Villaneda, USA