Jumbo-Visma have added another talented young Scandinavian rider to their development programme, with 16-year-old Håkon Eiksund Øksnes the latest Norwegian to join their youth and development pathway.
Øksnes will ride for two seasons at the Jumbo-Visma-affiliated JEGG-DJR Academy and then is likely to progress to the Jumbo-Visma Under 23 development squad.
Both Per Strand Hagenes, a former junior World Champion, and Johannes Staune-Mittet have cut their teeth at the U23 Jumbo-Visma team and will step up to the WorldTour squad in 2024. The pair both took maiden professional wins in 2023 with Hagenes’ solo victory at Sparkassen Münsterland Giro the highlight.
The leading WorldTour teams are searching for talented young riders at an ever earlier age and then offering them a pathway to development and a professional career. However some teams are concerned about teenagers turning professional, with calls for the UCI to impose a minimum one-year spell as Under 23 riders.
AG2R-Citröen approached Øksnes before Jumbo-Visma, but the Dutch team’s Scandinavian connection aided them in winning the race to sign him for the long term.
Øksnes is not guaranteed an automatic ride to the WorldTour, with race results still essential to his ascension through the ranks, but he is considered a future talent. He won Norway’s unofficial Joker Championship road race at 15 and 16 and impressed across disciplines.
“It’s very nice. I have always had a dream to ride for the team. This is very big,” Øksnes told Norwegian broadcaster TV2 who first reported the move.
“You almost run out of words. You gain a lot of confidence in their system when you see all the other Norwegian riders who have succeeded extremely well there.
“Both Hagenes and Staune-Mittet have won a lot, and the team has Jonas Vingegaard (a Dane) and this year won all the big three-week races. So it looks very good.”
Øksnes’ signing is a sign of Jumbo-Visma’s continued desire to invest in Norway’s best young riders and so take on Scandinavian team Uno-X. Teenagers Jonas Kind Høydahl and Jørgen Nordhagen. are part of their development team roster for 2024.
The teenager started this autumn riding for the NTG Lillehammer team, where Staune-Mittet and Nordhagen also came through under the guidance of coach Even Røed.
The head of Jumbo-Visma’s development team, Robert de Groot described Øksnes’ addition to the setup as easy, given his early scouting.
“We have a large scouting…