Under-23 Tour of Flanders winner Salvatore Puccio has been signed by the British-based Sky team for the 2012 season.

“Italy is renowned for producing talented young riders and in Salvatore we have uncovered a real gem,” said Sky principal David Brailsford.

“Not only will he have plenty to offer us in stage races throughout the season, he is also equally comfortable toughing it out in the one-day Classics and his grit and determination make him a hugely exciting prospect for the future.”

In addition to his win in the under-23 Tour of Flanders in April, Puccio won a stage of Toscana-Coppa delle Nazioni and finished top three in Giro del Belvedere di Villa di Cordignano, GP Palio del Recioto and Giro Bio.

Sky’s signing of Puccio, 22, comes on the back of the team’s signing of young Colombian climber Sergio Henao in August, giving a clear indication that Brailsford is keen to sign up promising young talent and bring them through the ranks.

Puccio commented: “I think Team Sky are the best choice for any young rider in the world at the moment and signing for them has made a dream of mine become a reality.”

“I will be important for me to have experienced Italian riders in the squad like Dario Cioni and Morris Possoni, and of course I have a close friend here in Davide Appollonio. I spoke to him before I signed and he answered all the questions I had about the team and I trust him when he says I will be very happy here.” 

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Young Colombian climber Henao signs for Sky