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Luke Lamperti and Matthew Riccitello lead US team at Tour de l’Avenir

USA Cycling sends a strong team to a race that often highlights future Tour de France winners.

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Luke Lamperti and Matthew Riccitello will spearhead the U.S. national team at the 2022 Tour de l’Avenir (August 18-28).

Riccitello is currently racing as a stagiaire at Israel Premier Tech, while Lamperti has enjoyed a second consecutive season at Trinity Racing.

The U.S. has not brought a team at the Tour de l’Avenir — labeled as a harbinger for the peloton’s future stars — since 2019 due to the COVID-19 breakout. Recent winners of the race include Egan Bernal and Tadej Pogačar.

This year, USA Cycling has begun to bring back several key programs, including a platform for the elite road women, while the Tour de l’Avenir experience will see a contingent of six up-and-coming riders travel to Europe for the key 10-day race.

“We’re re-starting the USA Cycling programs since pre-COVID and it’s been a while since we’ve had everything up and running, so we’ve got the women’s program for August and then in September we have the U23 riders for Avenir. It’s really the only trip that we’ve done all year so it’s really important to get these riders over,” USA Cycling’s Mike Sayers told VeloNews.

“It’s been really difficult, for every nation but we’re committed to getting these programs up and running, whether it’s the elite women, U23 men, or the juniors. Hopefully by next year we’ll be 75-80% back to where we were pre-COVID.”

The Tour de l’Avenir team head to France with genuine hopes of coming home with major results.

Lamperti will be a major force in the sprint stages, and at just 19, was fifth in the U.S. road championships earlier this year.

Riccitello, a strong time trialist and climber, will target the overall classification.

“The two leaders will be Lamperti and Riccatello. Obviously we know that Mathew has signed for Israel Premier Tech and that he’s well on his way, but Avenir suits him well. He’s probably our best U23 climber across the board and then as far as Luke goes, he’s a mega-talent. I’ve known him since he was 10 or 11 and he’s, in my opinion, our next mega-superstar as far as American riders,” Sayers added.

There’s real depth to the team, and it’s not just about the headlines.

Aevolo’s Jared Scott has had an excellent season both in the U.S. and in Europe, and will come into his element in the mountains. William Cooper Johnson is the reigning U23 road champion and will provide help for Lamperti, while Finn Gullickson and Gabriel Shipley will complement the team’s overall strength.

“The rest of the team has talented riders with Fin Gullickson, Gabriel Shipley, William Johnson and Jared Scott. We’re trying to honor representatives from US teams and groups. It’s a well -rounded team. I think we have riders, like Luke, who can have longterm success,” Sayers added.

The importance of the Tour de l’Avenir on these young riders’ careers cannot be overstated. Greg LeMond won the race before turning professional, while Andrew Talansky, Tejay van Garderen and Adrien Costa all stood on the podium.

“It’s an incredibly important race because if you finish in the top-10 or win a stage, that’s almost a guaranteed WorldTour deal. I think we have riders who can pull that off. It’s the biggest U23 men’s race in the world,” said Sayers.