Just four years after taking up cycling seriously, young Colombian Daniel Martinez has signed a professional contract. In 2015 he will ride for UCI Professional Continental Team Colombia.

The signing comes after a year during which he has made incredible progress as a rider, gaining race experience in Europe while training at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland.

The WCC coaches first spotted Martinez at the 2013 UCI Road World Championships in Florence, Italy, where he finished 15th junior after being part of a breakaway for the entire race.

“His final result did not reflect his true ability,” explains WCC coach Jean-Jacques Henry. “You could see that he had enormous talent but he also had a lot of shortcomings, particularly regarding tactics.”

The young Colombian joined the WCC’s Junior Group and this year spent the summer training in Aigle and gaining race experience in Under-23 races in Europe where he was constantly to the fore.

“Tactically he has understood how cycling works,” says his coach. “He handles and reads races better. He is intelligent and he thinks. He is an all-round rider – a good climber and good in a sprint. When he sees the finish line he goes for it, fights to the end. He won’t give up.”

Martinez puts much of his progress down to his three months training and racing with the WCC trainees: “I learned so much both as a rider and as a person. I Iearned that wins are the consequence of several components, most importantly effort and commitment every day.

“Jean-Jacques taught me a lot – both physically and mentally – that I will use not only in races and training but also in my personal life. This will help me in the coming seasons.”

Although the Tour de France is his long-term goal, Martinez is fully aware of his youth and does not mean to skip any of the learning stages: “I am still young and it will be very demanding. In the short term I will be happy to learn a lot from my new team. I will do the best I can to position well in races.”

Colombia’s Team Manager Claudio Corti would appear to have the same vision: “Martinez is an interesting rider and he definitely had a valuable experience at the UCI World Cycling Centre, helping him to start settling into European cycling. But for us he is a long-term prospect: we want to start a learning process that hopefully will bring good satisfaction to both him and the Team.”

Martinez’ coach at the UCI World Cycling Centre sums up: “He is young and it’s a long road to WorldTour level, but he is certainly capable of some very good things.”