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Lara Gillespie wins Antwerp Port Epic Ladies last month and now the Irish champion has landed her first World Tour contract (Photo: Tim van Wichelen-Cor Vos)

Lara Gillespie was set to make her debut today as a fully fledged World Tour rider and says she is delighted to have secured a new deal with a top tier team that takes her through to the end of 2026.

The Co Wicklow rider, still only 23-years-old, now steps up from UAE Development, a Continental team, to World Tour outfit UAE Team ADQ; a team that rides Tour de France Femmes and all the other biggest races in the world, including the classics.

While Gillespie has expressed her excitement about the move, team management said its head of sport had recently evaluated Gillespie. Based on that, they believe it was now time to move her up to World Tour level with a tailored plan to suit, and foster, her development.

“I am excited about this step forward in my career. I have had an amazing couple of years growing and learning how to race and win as a team with UAE Development Team and I am very grateful for these experiences,” Gillespie said.

“I have to thank all my teammates and staff, from whom I learnt a lot. And thanks also to (Cycling Ireland) who supported me in balancing a multi-disciplinary career. I am really looking forward to continue on this pathway and enjoy the adventures that World Tour racing will bring me.

“I look forward to integrating more and more and being part of a big project in the coming months and years. First of all, I have to focus on the Olympics with the Irish national track team in August, after which it will be great to finish the 2024 road season with some high-level races and really find my place in the new team.

“Over the next few years I want to learn more about myself and continue to develop, I think this is the perfect place to grow and become a successful and happy rider.”

Melissa Moncada, the president of UAE Team ADQ, said Gillespie had already proven “a talent of our development team, which makes the transfer very important to us while showing how we cultivate next generation of talents” within the team.

“She impressed us a lot this year, so it was a natural decision to proceed with the upgrade to the World Tour team. After careful evaluation done by our head of sport Cherie Pridham, we have taken the decision that Lara is ready to join the World Tour level.

“Together with Lara we have prepared an individual plan for her, which we believe suits her the best and we agreed on the contract until 2026.”

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