Queensland cyclist Taj Jones will join forces with four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome after earning a contract with the Israel Start-Up Nation team.
Jones, 20, is the first member of the Sunshine Coast-based Australian Cycling Academy to secure a contract with a World Tour team.
The Nanango product has signed a three-year deal with Israel Start-Up Nation, and will soon link up with Froome and his other new teammates at the team’s base in Girona, Spain.
“It’s incredible to think about where I have come from and where I am heading, to be a part of the same team as a legend like Chris Froome along with other world-class riders is exciting, and I can’t wait to see where I can take my career under the guidance of a World Tour team,” Jones said.
“I’m also really appreciative of the ACA team … their guidance and experience in the elite levels of cycling has certainly helped to fast track my progress.
“They’ve made all the mistakes in the past so I don’t have to make them myself which certainly helps fast track my progress.”
ACA managing director Ben Kersten said Jones – who in February won a stage of the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia – had been rewarded for his “strong aptitude for hard work, determination and willingness to learn”.
“He should be congratulated for his achievement to be the first of our riders to go to what is essentially the highest level in our sport” Kerten said.
“The ACA was created to ensure there was a pathway for developing young riders to turn professional and compete on the national and international stage.
“We are very confident that Taj will be the first of many cyclists from the ACA team who will go on to compete at the highest level over the next few years.”