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by Matt de Neef
October 9, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
Drapac Professional Cycling has today announced that Nathan Earle will race with the Australian ProContinental squad in 2016 after spending two years racing at the WorldTour level with Team Sky.
Earle joined Sky after an impressive 2013 season with Huon Salmon-Genesys in which he won two stages and the overall at the New Zealand Cycle Classic, stages at the Tour of Taiwan and Tour of Japan and several races at the National Road Series level. The Tasmanian’s two seasons at Sky were almost entirely spent in a domestique role, riding in support of his bigger-name teammates.
Drapac sports director Tom Southam believes Earle will get more opportunities to ride for himself in Drapac colours.
“It’s great to have Nathan Earle on board, I think that he has masses of untapped potential and he seems as motivated as a neo, even after a couple of years in Europe,” Southam said. “I believe we can give him opportunities in some top quality racing in 2016, and we will see him rise to the challenge.”
Earle is looking forward to coming back to Australia and joining Drapac in 2016.
“I am excited to get 2016 underway with Drapac Cycling, a team I have always followed with interest,” Earle said in a Drapac press release. “It will be a great team environment for me with a good core group of guys and some familiar faces, which I believe will only benefit my performance.
“Being a Tasmanian, it is great to be back on home soil, to be riding for an Australian team and still have the opportunity to race around the world,” Earle said.
In addition to the signing of Nathan Earle, Drapac also announced today that Gavin Mannion will join the squad in 2016, becoming the first American to do so. Mannion, who currently rides for the Continental Jelly Belly team in the US, was fourth in this year’s USA Pro Challenge and third in the Tour of the Gila.
“I am looking forward to the new setting and my new teammates”, Mannion said. “Moving to the Pro Conti level is the next step up for me and I am honoured move up with the professional environment and support structure of Drapac.
“Adapting to the new team, racing a much longer and more demanding calendar across the world will be the main challenges for me and I am up for them. I have always gotten along well with Australia teammates and directors in the past and feel Australians have a similar mentality to myself so I look forward to the year ahead,” Mannion said.
Mannion and Earle will join already-announced Drapac signees Jens Mouris (formerly Orica-GreenEdge) and 20-year-old Jason Lowndes (formerly Garneau – Québecor) at the team in 2016.
Brad Evans will join Drapac in a stagiaire role at the Tour of Hainan after racing this season with Drapac’s development team, Pat’s Veg Cycling. Evans has won several races at NRS level this year, including a stage of the Tour of Tasmania which is currently in progress. Brendan Canty, who has raced with Budget Forklifts in 2015, is currently riding for Drapac as a stagiaire at the Abu Dhabi Tour.