James Fouche will kick off his stagiaire campaign with Mitchelton-SCOTT at the 5th edition of the CRO Race.
The UCI 2.1 stage race that takes in 1022km over 6 stages will feature four World Tour teams in Bahrain Merida, Astana, Mitchelton-SCOTT and CCC Team alongside the likes of Israel Cycling Academy, Vital Concept B&B Hotels and Androni Giocattoli Sidermec.
Fouche has been on a journey towards the highest level of the sport that went on leaps and bounds this year with national title victories in the Elite Road National Championships road race and U23 time trial in Napier, combined with four top ten finishes throughout the season and three king of the mountains titles.
Fouche explained in a team announcement that the chance to race at World Tour level – as part of a team that already includes Kiwis Georgia Williams, Julian Dean, Sam Bewley, Jack Bauer and Dion Smith – is a huge step towards joining the professional peloton.
“This opportunity means heaps to me. I’ve been wanting to join the pro peloton since I started cycling and this is a big step towards that. Hopefully I can pick up some learnings from the guys and close the step for the future, so I’m looking forward to it.”
After appearing for New Zealand in both the U23 road race and time trial at the Yorkshire World Championships, the schedule for many riders might fade to season’s end; but not for Fouche.
“I’m scheduled to line up in a few tough races for the rest of the year and I hope I can help the guys get a few results. I’m always up for doing my job and whenever the race gets a bit tougher I like to get involved so we will see where that takes us but I just want to do a good job for the team.”
Along with his opportunity to appear as a stagiare for Mitchelton-SCOTT, Fouche will get to rock his national road race champion’s jersey at the highest level; something that hasn’t been seen to a great degree in the men’s professional ranks in recent years in contrast to Georgia Williams in 2018.
“I haven’t been able to do too many big races with the New Zealand champs jersey, so it’ll be cool to do a few races with Mitchelton-SCOTT, show the Kiwi Fern and get it out there.”