Team Sky have underlined their commitment to developing young British talent by signing Luke Rowe as a neo-pro for the 2012 season.
Twenty one-year-old Rowe is one of cycling’s brightest prospects and was a member of the same Olympic Development Programme which helped the likes of Ben Swift, Ian Stannard and Peter Kennaugh achieve their full potential.
The Welshman first made a name for himself on the track and notched up two European Championship titles as a junior and the first of his three senior National Madison Championship crowns before he turned 19.
A natural bike rider, Rowe proved equally adept on the road and in 2009 claimed his first win at the ZLM Tour, as well as four top-10 finishes at the Tour de l'Avenir. In 2010 he also tasted victory at the GP Sportivi di Poggiana and has gone from strength to strength this year by winning his second ZLM Tour title as well as a stage of the Thüringen Rundfahrt and three Kermesses in Belgium.
Team Sky Principal Dave Brailsford said: "Luke Rowe is one of this country’s outstanding prospects for the future. At Team Sky we are determined to ensure that the best British talent have the opportunity to compete at the highest level of our sport. We have watched him grow from a promising teenager into a well-rounded and gifted rider and are delighted to be able offer him his first professional contract.
"He has worked hard to get himself to where he is today and deserves his chance to work with and compete against the very best cyclists in the world. The next two years will be a huge learning experience for him but we believe he is in the very best place to do that and are looking forward to having him on board."
Rowe himself can't wait to get started, saying: "As a British rider, signing for Team Sky is a dream come true and I am very excited about what the next two seasons hold.
"I already know a lot of the guys in the team so I shouldn’t have any problems settling in. I’ve spoken to Peter Kennaugh and Ben Swift, and they only have good things to say about how the team is run and the way they treat their riders.
"The step up in standard is obviously going to be huge so during my first few months I will just have to try and learn as much as possible whilst obviously contributing as much as I can to the team."