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UAE Team Emirates has signed up New Zealander Michael Vink on a one-year contract after spotting the 30-year-old on the virtual cycling platform MyWoosh.
Vink attracted the attention of bosses at the UAE squad after putting in some top performances on the platform, which is used by members of the WorldTour squad for training. Following a few further tests, he was offered a one-year deal.
It is not the first time that a rider has earned a professional contract after shining on a virtual cycling platform. Jay Vine, one of the stars of this year’s Vuelta a España, earned his first contract with Alpecin-Deceuninck after winning the annual Zwift Academy — winners of the women’s competition get a contract with Canyon-SRAM. Meanwhile, Loes Adegeest will race for FDJ-Suez next season after becoming the first women’s Esports world champion.
“We’re very pleased to welcome Michael into the team. While he has had some good results on the road before, we really became more aware of him through his performances on Whoosh,” team principal Mauro Gianetti said. “Throughout the year our riders use Whoosh as depending on the weather it’s not always possible or practical to train outside: in some of these races we began to see Michael’s name popping up at the top of the results and contact was made.
“Cycling is constantly evolving and new innovations like Whoosh, which we are proud to say is a platform founded in the UAE, are even helping us discover new riders which would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.”
Vink has notched up some performances on the road as well, riding for teams a variety of teams like Trek-Livestrong. He has previously win the national road race title in 2012 and took the national TT title in 2015. Meanwhile, last year saw him win the Tour of Southland for the third time.
“I’m extremely grateful to be given this opportunity with UAE Team Emirates. To be asked to be a part of such a great team is truly humbling and is something I plan to take full advantage of,” he said. “This is the start of a new chapter in my career and I can’t wait to see what I can do in the WorldTour peloton.”
Welcome Michael ! 🤝
— @UAE-TeamEmirates (@TeamEmiratesUAE) October 31, 2022