October 5, 2018 / 2:24 PM / 10 months ago

Cycling: 'Exceptional' Bernal signs five-year deal with Sky

Cycling - Tour de France - The 31-km Stage 20 Individual Time Trial from Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle to Espelette - July 28, 2018 - Team Sky rider Egan Arley Bernal of Colombia finishes. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

LONDON (Reuters) - Young Colombian Egan Bernal, seen as a top prospect in road cycling, has signed a five-year deal that will keep him at Team Sky until the end of 2023, the Tour de France winners said on Friday.

The 21-year-old has enjoyed a strong first year as a professional with Sky, winning in Colombia and California before making his Tour debut in July and helping Geraint Thomas to victory.

“It feels like a new stage in my life,” said the climber in a Sky statement.

“I know five years is a long time and that it’s not too common in cycling, but the team has been great for me. They offer me everything I could want, and I’m excited about the future.

“My ambition is to keep developing as a rider — to learn from and help the best and become a key member of the team for many years to come.”

Team boss Dave Brailsford hailed an “exceptional talent” and said the deal was important for the development of a British team that has won the Tour de France six times in the last seven years.

“It is the clearest signal of our belief in Egan as a rider, with the potential to win the biggest races in the world in the coming years,” he said.

“Egan is part of the next generation at Team Sky, our next big leader for Grand Tours in the years to come...he is a top talent who has already shown his mental and physical strength in recent months. He will only keep on improving.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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