Egan Bernal hailed Team Sky's 'next big leader' after signing five-year deal

Peter Dejong/AP Photo

Egan Bernal has signed a five-year deal with Team Sky that will keep him with the Tour de France winners until 2023, the team announced Friday.

The 21-year-old Colombian, who is seen as a top prospect in road cycling, has enjoyed a strong first year as a professional with Sky, winning in Colombia and California before making his Tour debut in July and helping Geraint Thomas to victory.

"It feels like a new stage in my life," Bernal said in a Sky statement.

"I know five years is a long time and that it's not too common in cycling, but the team has been great for me. They offer me everything I could want, and I'm excited about the future.

"My ambition is to keep developing as a rider -- to learn from and help the best and become a key member of the team for many years to come."

Team boss Dave Brailsford hailed an "exceptional talent" and said the deal was important for the development of a British team that has won the Tour de France six times in the past seven years.

"It is the clearest signal of our belief in Egan as a rider, with the potential to win the biggest races in the world in the coming years," he said.

"Egan is part of the next generation at Team Sky, our next big leader for Grand Tours in the years to come. He is a top talent who has already shown his mental and physical strength in recent months. He will only keep on improving."

Bernal is still recovering from a multirider crash in San Sebastian in August, in which the 21-year-old sustained serious facial injuries.