The talented and versatile Ecuadorian is the first transfer of the team for next season.
Jhonatan Narvaez, one of the most promising riders of the U23 scene, will make his pro debut in 2018 with Quick-Step Floors, after signing a three-year contract with the most successful team of the past seasons. Hailing from the Sucumbios province, in northeast Ecuador, Narvaez has a diverse set of racing skills which he showcased on both road and track from a tender age and which have helped him make a name for himself and build an eye-catching palmares.
As a junior, Jhonatan broke a six-year-old world record in the individual pursuit, after stopping the clock in 3:13:309, a time two seconds faster than the previous benchmark, rivaling the ones of professionals; a double Pan American Junior Track Champion back in 2015, the Ecuadorian showed soon after these performances that he's cut also for road cycling, as he won races ending up in reduced bunch sprints over riders twice his age and cruised to a maiden U23 individual time trial title.
He burst into European cycling last year, climbing with the best at the prestigious Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc and finishing fifth overall, as well as winning the KOM classification. Following his strong season, he moved to the US-based Axeon Hagens Berman and didn't waste any time in proving his credentials, first by finishing in the top 10 at Volta ao Alentejo, before becoming the first South American winner of the Circuit des Ardennes.
At the same time, the 20-year-old climber got to rub shoulders with many seasoned pros in the America Tour and continued to impress; in April, he took a stage victory at the Tour de Gila, which he completed in sixth overall, and most recently he finished the Tour of Utah, arguably the toughest race in the United States, in the top 15.
"I became a rider from a very young age thanks to my father and brother, who were passionate about the bicycle. Cycling is a sport that is in my blood since discovering it and which I love very much. I've had a great road so far and I want to thank to all those who believed in me and stood by my side, from my family to the Axeon Hagens Berman team, with whom I spent this season", an emotional Jhonatan said.
"Not anyone can become a pro with Quick-Step Floors and to sign a contract with them makes me very proud. It's fantastic to turn pro with the best squad in the world, one consisting of many great riders", Narvaez continued. "I am ready to learn and work hard in order to succeed. Long-term, I have two big goals: to wear the leader's jersey in a Grand Tour and to win Liège–Bastogne–Liège, a fascinating and tough race which I became very fond of after riding the U23 version earlier this year."
"We know Jhonatan for a few years now, ever since he raced for our former feeder team Klein Constantia. It didn't took him too long to prove what he is capable of and I'm delighted to see he developed even further and put together a nice string of performances. We'll look to help him continue his progression and nurture his talent as he'll make one step at a time and adapt to the rigours of the pro peloton", said Patrick Lefevere of the first Ecuadorian rider in the history of Quick-Step Floors.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele