EF Pro Cycling have announced the signing of 24-year-old Will Barta, who made a splash during this year’s Vuelta a España when he looked set to win the stage 13 individual time trial to Mirador de Ézaro until Primož Roglič beat him by a single second.
Barta was part of the soon-to-be-defunct CCC Team for the past two seasons after coming up through Axel Merckx’s Hagens Berman-Axeon and the US national team, where he raced with current EF riders Logan Owen, Ruben Guerreiro and Neilson Powless.
“I’ve known Neilson and Logan for a long time as we grew up racing on the US National Team together. I also know Ruben Guerreiro from Axel Merckx’s team Hagens Berman-Axeon. It will be really fun to reconnect with those guys as teammates,” Barta said in a team press release.
“EF seems like a group that has a passion for the sport and performance, so I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”
Barta began racing at a young age, joining a Boise, Idaho club at age 11. A notable time triallist, he finished second at the U23 national championships in 2017 to Brandon McNulty (Rally Cycling) and fourth in the elites. He also showed promise for the Ardennes classics when he finished fourth in the U23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège the same year.
“I still feel that I am finding where my talents lie, but I am excited to keep developing with EF in various roles,” Barta said.
His career had a setback in 2018 when he fractured the greater trochanter of his femur in a crash during the U23 Giro d’Italia. The surgery to fix the break required cutting his gluteus muscle and he faced an eight-month rehabilitation to regain his full strength.
Even so, CCC Team boss Jim Ochowicz signed him to his first WorldTour contract for 2019. In his first season, he finished top 10 in the Tour de Romandie time trial and competed in his first Grand Tour in the Vuelta a España. He had another top 10 in the Tour Poitou-Charentes en Nouvelle Aquitaine time trial in August before his breakthrough performance in the Vuelta. After more than an hour in the hot seat about to win his first Grand Tour stage, he was denied at the last by Roglič.
After the stage, Barta said: “I think if you had asked me yesterday if I would be happy with second place, I would have said that I would have been ecstatic about it but when, in the end, it’s by just one second, it’s obviously a bit disappointing.
“However, overall, I am happy with my effort and I don’t think that there is anything else that I could really have done.”
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