5 men’s neo-pros to watch in 2023

Teams are increasingly hoping to scout riders as young as possible, so who are some of the young riders stepping into the pro ranks for 2023?

Photo: Photo by Casey B. Gibson

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Finding young talent and securing them early has become something of an arms race in cycling in recent years.

With riders such as Egan Bernal and Tadej Pogačar, and more recently Remco Evenepoel, flipping the script in grand tour racing, teams are keen to find and nurture the best talent as early as possible.

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The 2023 season will see a raft of young riders stepping up into the professional ranks, many of whom are coming straight from the juniors.

VeloNews looks at the rising stars to keep an eye on next year:

Matthew Riccitello (USA)

Age: 20
Team: Israel-Premier Tech

Riccitello would have liked to be stepping into the WorldTour next season, but it’s more likely to be the ProTour after Israel-Premier Tech failed to get above the safety line in the fight to avoid relegation. Nevertheless, the move to the pro ranks will be a major opportunity for the 20-year-old American and he joins Mason Hollyman, Marco Frigo, and Derek Gee in going professional with the squad.

Racing for Hagens Berman Axeon, Riccitello had a mixed bag of a season in 2022. It started really well with victory at the Istrian Spring Trophy, beating some top riders including a few others that are set to turn pro next year. However, the U23 Giro and the Tour de l’Avenir didn’t go to plan, nor did the worlds road race. Next season will be an opportunity to get things back on track and take a major step in his career.

Josh Tarling (Great Britain)

NEWPORT, WALES - MARCH 05: Josh Tarling celebrates after winning the mens points race at the British Cycling National Track Championships 2022 at The Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales on March 05, 2022 in Newport, Wales. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)
Josh Tarling at the British national championships (Photo: Getty Images)

Age: 18
Team: Ineos Grenadiers

Tarling is following in the footsteps of some top riders by stepping right out of the junior ranks and into the WorldTour. The 18-year-old is headed to Ineos Grenadiers as one of several young riders set to make their WorldTour debuts next year. Tarling has been very impressive this season with wins at the Tour de Gironde Juniors, the Trophée Morbihan Juniors, the Junior Tour of the North West, and the Junior Tour of Wales.

He dominated the junior time trial at the road worlds in Wollongong in September and was a major favorite for the road race a few days later, though his race was messed up by an early crash and he would ultimately pull out. Tarling made sure that the crash was not the final word on his season and he returned to Europe to win the junior Chrono des Nations. Tarling has plenty of promise, particularly when he’s against the clock.

Thibau Nys (Belgium)

Age: 20
Team: Trek-Segafredo

As the son of cyclocross superstar Sven Nys, the Belgian is going to have plenty of expectations on him next season, though that won’t be a new experience for him. Nys has been under scrutiny ever since he started racing and it doesn’t appear to have flustered him thus far.

This season saw him score a raft of victories on the ‘cross fields as well as the road, including recent wins in Tábor and Maasmechelen. He also took a silver medal in the U23 race at the recent European cyclocross championships.

Nys has spent the past two seasons racing for the Baloise Trek Lions so it makes sense that he has stepped into the Trek-Segafredo squad for 2023. It will be interesting to see how he develops with a growing number of race days on the road, but we can hope for big things from Nys in the coming years.

Leo Hayter (Great Britain)

Leo Hayter at the world championships. (Photo: Getty Images)

Age: 21
Team: Ineos Grenadiers

Hayter’s path to the WorldTour has been far from straightforward but the Brit is finally making the step-up next season. He seemed destined to do it with Team DSM following two years on their development team, but he decided to take a bit of a step back at the end of last year to take care of his mental health and moved to Hagens Berman Axeon. At the time, he said he had lost his love of the sport. However, the change in scenery seems to have helped him revive his cycling passion.

He won the Baby Giro in dominating fashion in June and then went on to take the British U23 TT title. The second half of the season didn’t quite go to plan but there were still some highlights to be had, such as the bronze medal in the U23 TT at the worlds. He impressed Ineos Grenadiers, where his brother Ethan is racing, who will hope that he will be one of the riders that can take them into a future as a grand tour contender.

Jan Christen (Switzerland)

Age: 18
Team: UAE Team Emirates

Christen is the latest in a line of young riders that have been snapped up by the UAE Team Emirates squad in recent years, secured by long-term deals. The Swiss rider penned a five-year deal to keep him at the team through 2027 at least. Christen rode with Tadej Pogačar’s setup, Pogi Team, for this season so his step into UAE is of little surprise.

He is part of the growing number of multi-disciplined riders and holds a junior world title in cyclocross as well a European junior road race title. He is a Swiss national champion in a few other disciplines to boot. This season also saw him win the overall title at the Pays de Vaud Juniors. Christen describes himself as an all-round rider so he’s slightly different to some of the major young signings the team has brought on in recent years and he could add another dimension to the UAE squad.

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