British teenager Alex Braybrooke is to swap Belgium for the south of France in 2017, having signed for French DN1 team AVC Aix-en-Provence.
Braybrooke spent 2016 racing for Lotto-Soudal U23, the feeder outfit to the WorldTour team. He lived and raced alongside James Shaw who enjoyed a successful stagiaire-ship with Lotto-Soudal and subsequently signed a two-year professional contract with them.
Due to the U23 team reducing the size of its squad, however, Braybrooke was forced to look for another team and he has been recruited by AVC – a year after he chose Lotto-Soudal over them.
“I almost signed for them last year and they have been really good with me since I have got back in contact with them. I’m looking forward to it,” the 19-year-old told Cycling Weekly.
As a junior, he courted a lot of interest with his results for the HMT Academy team, including coming second at the Junior Tour of the Basque Country and winning the Signal d’Écouves in 2015.
The 2016 season was about settling into a new country and a new way of racing and he performed admirably until a broken arm suffered in a crash in September ended his season prematurely.
His race calendar in 2017 will consist of a number of stage races in France, UCI 1.2 and 2.2 races, U23 races in Italy, and Coupe de France events.
“The team raced in a couple of big stage races this year – the Tour du Loir et Cher, the Tour du Pays de Savoie and Tour of Alsace – and they are races that in the future I think I can do well in,” he added.
“By the end of this season I felt stronger in races and hopefully I can carry that onto next year and use this year’s experiences to be competitive.
“I gained a lot of experience from racing in Belgium and I enjoyed it a lot. France is a different scene but hopefully being one year stronger and wiser I can push on next year.
“It’ll be a little different to Lotto in that there are older riders on the team, but they are one of the best DN1 teams that are focused on development.”