Girdlestone, 25, had been earmarked for greater things after winning the Tour of Rwanda last year. He raced with American professional team Garmin-Sharp as a stagiaire – effectively an intern – earlier this year and previously competed at the Continental level with African outfit MTN-Qhubeka.

Drapac already has a strong South African connection. The team rides SwiftCarbon bikes, the brand owned by South African Mark Blewett, a former professional rider himself and who helped design and test the road and time-trial frames.

Girdlestone said he was excited by the opportunity to ride for Drapac, which is ranked as a UCI Professional Continental team.

“The fact that Drapac is Australian is great as I really like the country,” he said. “I will be moving to Melbourne, Australia, with my girlfriend Charleen first thing next year. It will be a big step for us.

“I am really looking forward to being a part of the Drapac family and moving onward and upward in the world’s toughest sport with them. I’ll still have some connection to home in that we’re all riding SwiftCarbon bikes,” Girdlestone continued.

Girdlestone’s palmares include his remarkable record at the tough Tour of Rwanda, which he won in 2013 after having finished second and third overall in the two previous years.

This was just a small element of what earlier led to Garmin-Sharp’s Sports Director, South African cycling legend Robbie Hunter, selecting Girdlestone as a stagiaire.

“I had the opportunity to give a stagiaire ride to a South African rider which was obviously a big chance to show what they were capable of in some of the races in Europe this year,” he explained. “I decided on Dylan as I believe he has the right attitude, skills and mindset to be a pro bike rider.

“I couldn't be happier to see that he has managed to secure a professional ride with a great set up like Drapac, which is growing year by year under the guidance of Jonathan Breekveldt. I wish him and the team all the success in the future.”

Girdlestone is the fifth new signing to be announced by Drapac, following on from the signings of Brenton Jones, Peter Koning, Tim Roe and Sam Spokes.

Drapac Professional Cycling General Manager, Jonathan Breekveldt said that the recruitment of Girdlestone was an important step in the team’s evolution.

"As we continue to globalise the team and race in new regions we look to do the same with the nationalities of our riders,” he said. “Dylan will help expose the team to a new continent for Drapac Professional Cycling, which is exciting for both the team and its partners. This will also result in the team travelling to South Africa in 2015 for the first time to participate in the Cape Town Cycle Tour.

“Dylan is a strong rider with great potential, which was shown in his recent stagiaire ride with Garmin-Sharp and will form a key component in the team and our ambitions for 2015.”