Will Clarke, Brendan Canty and Tom Scully will make the step up to the WorldTour in 2017, joining the Cannondale-Drapac outfit as their Drapac Pro Continental team comes to a close at the end of this season.
The announcement comes four months after Drapac became a co-title sponsor of the Cannondale WorldTour team and it was confirmed that the existing Drapac Pro Continental team would be closed down as Drapac put its resources into the WorldTour setup.
Cannondale-Drapac boss Jonathan Vaughters revealed in July that promising Australian Brendan Canty would make the jump across to the WorldTour squad in 2017 and today’s announcement confirms that signing. For 24-year-old Canty, his signing with the WorldTour outfit is the latest step in a whirlwind rise through the cycling ranks, just three years after his first-ever road race.
The former runner had a stagiaire role with Drapac late last season before signing with Drapac for the 2016 season. The Melbournian climber had an impressive year, winning the best young rider classification and finishing seventh overall at the Tour of Oman before later winning a stage of the Tour of Austria.
“It’s definitely a very exciting time for me, and I think there’s plenty to look forward to heading into 2017,” Canty said. “It’s a dream to be a part of a WorldTour team competing at the highest level of the sport, and I can’t wait for things to get started,” Canty said. “It’s a little crazy to think where I started a few years ago in my first road race, and the situation I am currently in.
“We haven’t sat down yet to talk through my schedule for 2017, but they tend to change anyway. No doubt there will be many races and various opportunities, and I really want to embrace what will be the biggest and hardest season of my career to date.”
For 31-year-old Will Clarke, the move across to Cannondale-Drapac is a chance to return to the highest level of the sport. He stagiaired with Ag2r La Mondiale in 2010, rode the WorldTour with Leopard Trek in 2011 and then, after a brief return to the Pro Continental ranks in 2012, stepped back up with Argos-Shimano in 2013. Clarke won a stage at the 2012 Tour Down Under and is a two-time prologue time trial winner at the Herald Sun Tour.
“I am looking forward to having the chance to participate in the WorldTour again, and also be a part of Drapac’s journey to the highest level of the sport,” Clarke said. “I would like to win some races and help the team win races. I would also like to ride a Grand Tour, which I still have not done yet.”
Twenty-six-year-old Tom Scully is no stranger to Jonathan Vaughters-run teams, having ridden with the Chipotle-First Solar Development Team in 2011 and 2012, and having done a stint with Garmin-Sharp as a stagiaire in late 2012. Scully’s maiden professional victory came at the Boucles de la Mayenne earlier this season.
“I’m most looking forward to racing bikes alongside and against the best bike riders in the world, all around the world,” Scully said. “I’m also looking forward to learning what I can from staff and riders, as most of them will have been there and done it all before at the WorldTour level.
“It’s early days yet, but I would like to start things off with some strong performances at the New Zealand Nationals in January and build from there.”
Canty, Clarke and Scully join recent signings 26-year-old American Taylor Phinney, 28-year-old Belgian Sep Vanmarcke and 22-year-old Englishman Hugh Carthy in coming across to Cannondale-Drapac in 2017.
Also joining the setup in 2017 are three staff members from the existing Drapac team. Former pro Tom Southam, sports director for the past two years, will take up the same role at Cannondale-Drapac; Drapac general manager Jonathan Breekveldt will take a management position with Cannondale-Drapac in Europe; and Keith Flory, Drapac’s performance director, joins the WorldTour team in the same capacity.
For the remaining riders on the Drapac Pro Continental team, only a few have confirmed contracts for 2017. Dutchman Peter Koning has signed with new Irish Pro Continental team Aqua Blue Sport, Lachlan Norris and Gavin Mannion will join UnitedHealthcare and Jens Mouris will race with Roompot in his native Netherlands. Veteran Graeme Brown, meanwhile, is set to retire. The fate of the remaining riders is not yet clear.
The 2017 season will also see the introduction of the Drapac-Pat’s Veg Continental team, a development squad comprised only of riders pursuing university degrees or other professional certifications.