The peloton is getting younger and younger and there will be many talents who will shine in 2023. In this article we picked some of the best young talent that might impress with great performances this year.
Of the 10 riders in this list, all of them were born between 2000 and 2003. To be included they must have been outside of the UCI ranking Top 200 with no big results in WorldTour races before 2023 as well as some obvious supertalents like Cian Uijtdebroeks being excluded despite meeting those restrictions.
Team in 2023: Intermarché – Circus – Wanty (contract until 2024)
Born: 31st May 2003
Madis Mihkels is the youngest rider on this list. The Estonian is versatile and can practically do everything at a good level on a road bike which means that he should immediately be a valuable UCI point hunter for Intermache in 2023.
In the Tour of Estonia 2022 Stage 1, Mihkels outclassed the BikeExchange – Jayco team which brought Kaden Groves and a WorldTour level squad. Mihkels not only won the uphill cobbled sprint but completely Groves who later went on to win a Vuelta stage.
Mihkels performed exceptionally well for a first year U23 rider at the World Championships in Australia, where he finished fourth, beating Olav Kooij in the bunch sprint. Of the first year U23 riders, Mihkels was the highest placed finisher and the only one in the Top 10.
Mihkels’ younger compatriots Romet Pajur and Frank Aaron Ragilo are already in WorldTour systems and also might deliver good results this season. For a country with a population of only 1.33 million people, the Estonian young future looks extremely bright.
Unfortunately, Mihkels was hit by a car while training in Estonia at the start of 2023. Luckily he did not suffer huge injuries or break a bone. The aftermath was a 7 centimetres deep cut on his lower back caused by a car mirror however Mihkels right after the crash continued to train, according to his Strava and is currently with his team in the January training camp in the Alicante region in Spain.
Team in 2023: Jumbo-Visma (contract until 2025)
Born: 13th September 2001
Thomas Gloag is one of the biggest young British talents, and seems to have the tools to turn into a great GC rider. Despite not winning a stage race GC as an U23 rider, the Dutch outfit Jumbo-Visma obviously saw potential in Gloag. Jumbo-Visma is known for improving riders with their system and maximising their potential like they did with less conventional signings such as Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard. Whilst riding as a trainee for Jumbo at the back-end of 2022, Gloag finished 17th in Giro dell’Emilia and 12th in Tre Valli Varesine, both being hard and hilly one-day races.
In Tre Valli Varesine he was by far the youngest rider who made the first group with the second youngest rider in the group being Tadej Pogačar, who is three years older than Gloag. In Gran Piemonte Gloag was also 12th, but on the major climb of the day he made the first small selection of attackers easily but could not cooperate or attack, as Jumbo’s sprinter Kooij was dropped behind. Based on these results in Italy, Gloag should be ready to contribute at WorldTour level in 2023.
Team in 2023: Astana Qazaqstan Team (contract until 2024)
Born: 14th April 2000
Syritsa is huge but can sprint and climb well for his size, with a similar profile to Jonathan Milan. The Russian won multiple high level amateur races in Spain at the start of 2022. Whilst these were not UCI races, the amateur race circuit in Spain is full of mountainous terrain and many strong riders, with Richard Carapaz earning a World-Tour contract whilst racing there. Later in the 2022 season he proved himself riding for Astana, winning the first stage of Tour de Langkawi in sprint and finishing in high places in other UCI races, such as the Arctic Race of Norway. Syritsa might not become the best sprinter in the world but he might be the perfect lead-out man, with a huge draft behind him, resistance over hills and strong seated power.
Team in 2023: Team DSM (contract until 2024)
Born: 1st March 2003
Max Poole earned a pro contract with the DSM WorldTour team after strong performances in Sazka Tour (2.1) and Arctic Race of Norway (2.Pro). Despite being a first year U23 rider, Poole finished 10th in GC in Sazka Tour, losing 48 seconds to Lorenzo Rota and even less time to such great U23 talents as Archie Ryan, Oscar Onley and Johannes Staune-Mittet. Poole is at least one year younger than all of those riders and could improve massively in 2023. Whilst not making this list, Poole’s teammate Oscar Onley is also a talent to watch out for in 2023, after challenging Jonas Vingegaard in CRO Race uphill finishes last September -earning him a contract until 2027.
Team in 2023: Groupama – FDJ (contract until 2024)
Born: 24th September 2001
Samuel Watson is one of the seven riders from Groupama-FDJ’s development team who recieved a contract with the WorldTour team in 2023. Others were Laurence Pithie, Reuben Thompson, Lenny Martinez, Romain Gregoire, Enzo Paleni and Lorenzo Germani who are all exciting talents in their own right. Watson is a versatile rider who can do almost everything on a road bike fairly well, but seems suited to being a top classics rider. Some of his best results in 2022 include 5th in Tro Bro Leon, 2nd in the British National Championships behind Mark Cavendish and a win in U23 Gent-Wevelgem from a huge bunch sprint. Watson’s biggest strength might be his sprint and whilst FDJ’s classics leaders Küng and Madouas are extremely strong, the team has been missing a classics rider who can finish in a sprint – perhaps Watson is the answer.
Team in 2023: Groupama – FDJ (contract until 2024)
Born: 21st January 2003
Possibly the biggest talent on this list is Romain Gregoire, the future of French cycling. Gregoire is not a GC rider so hopefully Groupama-FDJ do not try to turn him into that, with his biggest strength being hilly one-day races – a natural comparison is Julian Alaphilippe. He won four consecutive one-day races in the Spring of 2022, one of them being the U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege, however Gregoire is not a mountain goat as he lost a lot of time in the U23 Giro and Tour de l’Avenir queen stages. Gregoire’s potential is huge and in 2023 he already might perform exceptionally in the Ardennes classics.
Team in 2023: Jumbo-Visma Development Team (contract until 2023)
Born: 16th November 2001
Archie Ryan’s development team contract ends this year and he does not have a future deal with Jumbo-Visma’s WorldTour team, like Staune-Mittet or Strand Hagenes. Despite his youth, Ryan performed in every stage race he competed in since August of 2022 – 6th in Sazka Tour, 4th in Tour de l’Avenir, 6th in Tour de Slovaquie and 8th in Ronde de l’Isard is an impressive streak of results.
Importantly, Ryan also won stages both in Tour de Slovaquie and Ronde de l’Isard. His most impressive performance however might be in Tour de l’Avenir Stage 8, where he finished second only behind Cian Uijtdebroeks on a huge mountain stage – losing only two seconds to the Belgian supertalent. In 2023 Ryan might be the best Irish climber and will surely have many teams vying for his signature for 2024.
Team in 2023: Trek-Segafredo (contract until 2024)
Born: 12th November 2002
Thibau Nys is one of the best U23 cyclocross riders in the world and has shown great results in road races. He finished 3rd in Antwerp Port Epic and won Fleche du Sud overall in 2022, however in 2021 the young Belgian won the European U23 Championships as a first year U23 rider whilst barely racing on the road at that time. Thibau is the son of Sven Nys, one of the greatest cyclo-cross riders of all time except Thibau is a lightweight rider for cyclo-cross and should be versatile on the road and particularly strong in the Ardennes Classics.
Team in 2023: Equipo Kern Pharma (contract until 2023)
Born: 8th December 2002
Igor Arrieta is the only rider on this list who is not on a World-Tour team or in a WorldTour development system like Ryan. Despite this, it seems very likely that after 2023 Arrieta will be signed by Movistar as is the case with many promising young Spanish climbers. The Kern Pharma rider caught our attention with his performance in Gran Camiño at the start of 2022, where he finished 4th in the hardest stage of the race at only 19 years old.
Arrieta finished in a group with Mark Padun, Ion Izagirre and Ruben Fernandez, losing only 51 seconds on a multiple mountain stage to Alejandro Valverde, Michael Woods and Ivan Ramiro Sosa. Arrieta also performed well in the Tour of the Alps, finishing fourth from a breakaway in the last stage, beating Andrey Amador, Marco Brenner and Torstein Træen who finished 9th in Volta a Catalunya in the previous month. The young Spaniard seems to perform well on hard mountain stages so should be well adapted to races like La Vuelta. After May in 2022 his results were not that good compared to the start of the year but with the right programme and system he might become a good climber/GC rider.
Team in 2023: UAE-Team Emirates (contract until 2024)
Born: 21st December 2001
Finn Fisher-Black’s 2022 season ended with a hard crash in Boucles de la Mayenne at the end of May and he makes his return in Tour Down Under in 2023. Fisher-Black is an exciting talent and is versatile for a tall rider. He performed particularly well in the final stage of Paris-Nice in 2022, where Jumbo-Visma went full-gas in cold conditions.
The main reason why Fisher-Black is on this list is his training ride at the end of 2022. On 20th December some of the UAE Team-Emirates riders did a full gas mountain race on Vall d’Ebo, however only Pogačar and Fisher-Black uploaded their rides on Strava. Fisher-Black climbed it in 16:44, while Pogačar did 16:26 (one second slower than his record set at the start of 2022 but the headwind in the December 2022 test was stronger). UAE-Team Emirates riders did the test after three hours of riding and probably spent around 2500-3000 kilojoules before the climb. Lotto-Soudal also did a training race up Vall d’Ebo in 2021 but they did it after around 1 hour and 15 minutes and 1000 kilojoules. Even with drafting this effort is impressive by Fisher-Black after three hours of training in December.
Kārlis Ozols (@CyclingGraphs)