By Sophie Smith
Australian Nathan Earle has signed with Sky and will ride for the British-based outfit from next season.
Earle is a product of the Australian domestic scene - National Road Series (NRS) - and will reunite with fellow Tasmanian Richie Porte next year, whom he rode with between 2008-2009.
The 24-year-old is one of a growing number of Australian cyclists - including Porte, Nathan Haas and Steele von Hoff (Garmin-Sharp) - to graduate to the WorldTour from the NRS and not the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) under-23 development programme.
Earle currently competes for Andrew Christie-Johnston's Huon Salmon - Genesys Wealth Advisers squad, which he joined in 2008. He won the New Zealand Cycle Classic in January plus a stage at both the Tour of Taiwan and Tour of Japan.
Porte, Haas and von Hoff have ridden for various incarnations of the same Continental team.
"It's a really good feeling to have signed for Team Sky. This was the next step I was looking to take and I'm lucky enough to be signing with the most well-drilled team in the pro peloton," Earle said.
"To be riding alongside the likes of Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Richie Porte is a real honour. Richie has always been someone I've looked up to since riding with him. It's a real inspiration to see how he has progressed whilst at Team Sky and I hope to follow in his footsteps."
Sky head of performance support Tim Kerrison added: "Nathan has proven he is a great climber and has been winning quite a few races in Australia and Asia in the last 12 months.
"The Australian system has identified him physiologically as being a real talent and we're starting to see that with his results on the road. He recently won the Tour of Toowoomba in Australia, winning the hard uphill finish on stage two and has a number of other good wins under his belt.
"He knows and has ridden with riders on the team and they've attested to his ability. He's a rider who we think we can take from the development ranks and turn him into a quality WorldTour rider."
Earle is one of a growing number of Tasmanian's to join the WorldTour that currently boasts Porte, Matthew Goss and Wesley Sulzberger (Orica-GreenEdge), Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) and Will Clarke (Argos-Shimano) to name a few.
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