British sprinter Dan McLay will get a chance to ride at WordTour level after signing for EF Education First-Drapac for the 2018 season.
McLay, who took an extraordinary victory in the Tour de l’Eurométropole on Sunday, will join the American team after three years at French professional continental outfit Fortuneo-Oscaro.
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The 25-year-old, who was born in New Zealand but brought up in Leicester, said that the move was the perfect opportunity to prove himself at the highest level of the sport.
“I’m really happy to step up to the WorldTour, and I think this is the perfect team for me as I make that move to the top level,” said McLay.
“This is a crucial moment in my career. I’m getting to the age where I’m no longer considered a young and developing rider. It’s time for me to perform before the grey hairs start to appear.”
Despite spending most of the last few years racing lower level races in France, McLay has seized his opportunities to success at the Tour de France, picking up seven top-10s in bunch sprints in the last two years, including a third place finish on stage six of the 2016 race.
McLay will join a team greatly altered from the current Cannondale-Drapac outfit, after a large number of riders decided to seek out other squads after the team announced that it might not continue in 2018 after a potential sponsor pulled out.
The team’s future was secured with the introduction of EF Education First as a title sponsor, but despite only currently having 14 riders (including McLay) on their books for the 2018 season, Charly Wegelius said that the British sprinter had been a rider that the team had been interested in for a while.
“Dan is a rider that we have followed for a long time,” said Wegelius. “His talent is clear for all to see. It’s a big satisfaction to finally get him on board, and we are looking forward to helping him take the next steps in his development.”
Although likely to be principally employed as a sprinter, McLay also has ambitions to lead the team in some of the cobbled races in the spring.
“I think I can become good in the classics,” McLay continued. “I’m excited to learn from my new teammates, such as Sep Vanmarcke.
“I hope to find a winning formula and get into a habit of winning. That’s the main goal for next year.”