There’s much to celebrate at Team Skoda Racing. Among the sadness of seeing two champions of the team move on – in Joel Yates and Alex West in 2018 – the team have the satisfaction of knowing that they are fulfilling their mandate. Here Brad Tilby shares in his words what the two big transfers means to him and the team.
It’s fair to say this week has been full of excitement for the team both on and off the bike. While we were celebrating the success of Southland, we have been working with both Alex and Joel as they finalise their plans for 2018. For these guys, we are super proud of what they have achieved over the last 12 months and we are keen to see where they go in 2018.
Joel and Alex are completely different types of riders and their chosen paths are worlds apart. Alex is heading to Italy where he will ride for Cycling Team Fruili. This team focuses on big one day races and multi day tours. Predominately, they target hilly races and this suits Alex who has incredible climbing abilities for such a tall guy.
Joel is heading to Gateway Harley Davidson Trek U25 Team, this team competes in the Pro 1 / 2 circuit in America and takes on a lot of criteriums. Joel has become incredibly strong at riding on the flat and from his track experience, he is exceptionally good at being in the right position when it really matters.
For Team Skoda Racing, this is the output of everything we put into the program. Scott Fairbairn and I are two passionate cyclists that want to see more aspiring riders reach their full potential on the international scene. At the end of the day both Scott and I are cycling volunteers but get the reward out of seeing riders come on the team as talented juniors and leave with the right skillset to take on the international scene.
Joel and Alex both joined the team at a fairly young age and it’s been about giving them the right level of exposure when they need it. Alex really focused this year on consistency in stage races this year while Joel has focused on using his big engine for sprinting and being a powerhouse on the flats. We could see the progression these guys had made at Southland this year.
Part of mandate on Team Skoda Racing is to see two riders a year go to big overseas Teams or into the Cycling New Zealand Elite Program. Last year we had Robert Stannard go to Mitchelton Scott and Campbell Stewart joined the Elite Track program. This year it is the turn of Joel and Alex. Next year we hope we can continue to churn out the same calibre of riders for big international teams in Europe or America. We are a rider centric set-up where the rider’s development comes first over the team’s objectives. For us this is always hard, you worry that your best riders keep leaving but we have been lucky every year that the next level of cyclists have stepped up their game and have delivered.