Jumbo-Visma continue to build for the future with their latest bit of transfer activity seeing 16-year-old Norwegian starlet Håkon Eiksund Øksnes join the all-conquering team's academy squad.
"It's very nice. I have always had a dream to ride for the team. This is very big," says Øksnes in quotes collected by TV2. Signing a two-year deal, the 2007-born prodigy who has excelled in Norwegian junior races will link up with Dutch club team JEGG-DJR Academy. "You almost run out of words. You gain a lot of confidence in their system when you see all the other Norwegian riders who have succeeded extremely well there. Both Hagenes and Staune-Mittet have won a lot, and the team has Jonas Vingegaard and this year won all the big three-week races. So it looks very good."
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Given Norway have their own professional team nowadays, a team that competed in the Tour de France earlier this year no less, the Uno-X Pro Cycling Team, TV2 reporter Mads Kaggestad is wondering why they weren't trying to secure the services of a home-grown top prospect.
"I am amazed that such riders "miss out" on Uno-X. Uno-X would certainly have liked to have more of the Norwegians in the Jumbo-Visma system, but Jumbo-Visma is simply faster on the uptake. It is a competition for the greatest talents, and Jumbo-Visma probably has a more offensive method," says Kaggestad. "Uno-X must be on the field before the foreign big teams. At the same time, it is of course tempting for young riders to go to such foreign systems, so it is tough for Uno-X to compete with all that those teams offer in terms of follow-up, equipment et cetera. But Uno-X should be competitive."
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Replying to the news story on his official X (Twitter) account however, Uno-X noss Jens Haugland has hit back at Kaggestad. " I am surprised that such riders "slip" for Uno-X, says Mads Kaggestad. Well, I'll be damned if we start chasing riders before they are juniors. We will always fight for a great Norwegian club and school model and we are a proud sponsor of both NTG and many Norwegian clubs."