There are only a small handful of riders who can say they won a World Tour race as a teenager, but Mathias Vacek is one of those prodigious few. Aged 19, Mathias found himself in a breakaway heading for the stage win at the UAE Tour. He seized his chance and earned himself his first pro win. Shortly thereafter, however, things did not go so smoothly for Mathias. His team, the Russian-sponsored Gazprom outfit, were forced to stop competing. Fortunately for the young Czech, his earlier performances had caught the eye of Trek-Segafredo talent scout Markel Irizar and he was offered a three-year contract to join the American team. With his future secured, Mathias could fully focus on racing. He closed out the season with 10th overall at Tour de l’Avenir and a pair of impressive silver medals at the World and European U23 road race championships.

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