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By Shane Stokes

Archie Ryan has travelled to Australia prior to his EF Education-EasyPost pro debut and is upbeat about his early impressions of the team.

The Wicklow rider announced a two-year deal with the squad back in July and more recently enjoyed a get together with the WorldTour squad in December.

“Camp went great. It was really nice to meet everyone,” he told stickybottle. “Everyone is so friendly and nice, so it was really, really easy to fit in. Thankfully I already know a lot of the boys already, a lot of the new guys as well. So it felt right.

“Everyone I didn’t know is so friendly and nice, so it was pretty sweet. I love the new setup. No complaints there at all, I am super, super excited to get to work with the boys.”

Ryan secured a slot with the team thanks to a number of strong performances in the past two seasons.

Last year he took stage wins in the Tour of Slovakia and the Ronde de l’Isard, as well as netting second on a mountain stage of the Tour de l’Avenir and finishing fourth overall. That GC result was the best-ever for an Irish rider, showcasing his talent.

He missed much of 2023 due to the recurrence of a knee injury but roared back in August, taking fourth in his first race of the season, the Gran Premio Sportivi di Poggiana.

He went on to win a stage in the Tour de l’Avenir, finish sixth on a stage against professionals in the Skoda Tour of Luxembourg and then shone in two season-ending races in Italy.

Ryan seemed poised for victory in the under 23 Il Lombardia but was impeded in the sprint by the Belgian William Junior Lecerf, finishing second.

Two days later he triumphed in his final race of the season, the Coppa Citta di San Daniele. He took a break after those races and more recently has been building well.

“The form is all right,” he told stickybottle just before Christmas. “I have been properly training the past couple of weeks now, so it is coming along nicely. The knee is behaving. I am doing a good block of training now after training camp, and it is all going well, thankfully.”

He has travelled to London and will fly on to Australia on Saturday December 30th, arriving well in advance of the Santos Tour Down Under. The WorldTour event runs from January 16th to 21st.

With the final two stages featuring uphill finishes at Willunga Hill and Mount Lofty, should suit him well. “I’m super, super excited about the race,” he said. “It should be fun.”

Like many of the participants, he will likely ride the preceding event on January 13th, the Down Under Classic criterium in Adelaide.

Until then he will make the countdown to his professional debut by acclimatising to the heat of Australia and getting in some last-minute preseason training there.

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