Ineos have completed the signing of 23-year-old Colombian Brandon Rivera on a two-year contract.
The young rider won the individual time trial title at the Pan American Championships this year, and also came fourth in the raod race as Daniel Martinez (EF Education First) took that win.
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Rivera moves from GW-Shimano, a Colombian team that race on the UCI Continental circuit, and before that grew up as a mountain biker, where Ineos rider Egan Bernal a former rival and old friend.
Speaking on his delight at having signed for the British WorldTour team, Rivera said: “I feel very happy and fortunate to be joining the team – it’s a golden opportunity that I hope to take advantage of.
“I grew up as a mountain biker but I love climbing, time trials and one-day races. I’m ready to help my teammates when they need it, but also prepared to make the most of any opportunities.”
Rivera’s arrival increases the number of Colombians on the Ineos roster to four, with Tour de France champion Egan Bernal, Iván Sosa and Sebastián Henao representing the South American nation.
Speaking on his friendship with Bernal, Rivera said: “Egan and I are very good friends. We have known each other since the age of 10 when we started on the mountain bike in Zipaquirá. We were both full of dreams, and so to now be riding together again is incredible.
“I have to thank him very much for riding with me all these years and for always believing in me. In Colombia Egan is an example that dreams do come true and he’s an idol for children and adults.”
Rivera becomes the second young rider to sign for Ineos this week, the British team having announced the capture of 18-year-old Spanish time trial star Carlos Rodriguez.
Ineos coach Xabier Artetxe explained that Rivera had raced in Europe before his year back in Colombia with GW-Shimano, but was ultimately thwarted by a knee injury.
He also gave further details on the relationship between Rivera and Bernal, saying they used to be big rivals when they were mountain bike riders, and that he thinks the more established Colombian will be instrumental in helping his friend find his feet in the WorldTour.
Artetxe said: “Brandon is versatile and he can become a really good support rider for the team. He’s a strong time trialist, he can climb well and he’s also fast when sprinting from a small group.
“He was racing in Europe two years ago but he didn’t have the best experience as he had a knee injury. But last year he came back to Colombia and he had a really good season. He’s stepped up a lot and I think he’s ready for the WorldTour.
“When he was younger, he and Egan were the two best mountain bike riders in Colombia. They were the biggest rivals but they are really good friends. They spend a lot of time training together so Egan can really help him find his feet in the team.”