17-year-old junior rider signs five-year deal with UAE Team Emirates

An unusual move has seen the Spaniard sign a long-term deal with the WorldTour squad

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A 17-year-old junior rider has signed a rare five-year deal with UAE Team Emirates.

Spaniard Juan Ayuso will be gradually brought into the WorldTour with his new team, spending his first year with a development squad.

Ayuso is the reigning Spanish junior national champion and already has six victories to his name in 2020, despite the very few number of race days this season.

UAE Team Emirates manager Joxean Matxin Fernandez said: “Juan is a rider we have been following for a long time. It’s no secret that we like to work with young talented riders and Juan is the definition of this. He has the right balance between physical talent and having a very good head on his shoulders. Along with Juan and his parents we are thinking more medium to long term.

“The idea is for him to make a gradual transition into the WorldTour team. We are deciding along with Juan and his family where is best for him to spend his first year -whether it be at a Continental or professional level is still to be defined.”

Ayuso joined the UAE-backed team at a training camp last year and has been racing on a Colnago bike given to him by the team in 2020.

With no racing scheduled in the foreseeable future, it is unclear at the moment when Ayuso will race again or which development team he will ride with.

Ayuso said: “At the moment I’m an all-rounder but I think in the future I will head towards being more a climber. My first contact with the team was through Matxin mid-way through last season, then I got to know the team a bit better at their training camp last winter.

“The team is relatively new, and it is taking huge steps to improve each year. I have no doubts that the team will become the best team in the WorldTour in the near future.”

Contracts lasting five years are rare in professional cycling, with most riders signing either one or two-year deal with teams.

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A noteworthy exception is Egan Bernal who signed a five-year with Team Ineos in 2018, aged just 21, before he went on to win the Tour de France the following year.

Ayuso said he is currently an all-round rider, but is eager to focus on his climbing ability in the near future.

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.