He may well be New Zealand’s favourite Australian, Robert Stannard, who formerly competed for New Zealand as a junior rider, will join the team that currently boasts Kiwis Jack Bauer and Sam Bewley in 2019.
2017 was a massive step in the right direction for Robert Stannard, arguably one of the world’s most prolific 19 year old cycling talents. His season with the development team for what was then Orica-BikeExchange saw Stannard claim 14 top ten finishes including victories in the team time trial of Toscana Terra di Ciclismo Eroica and stage 3 of the Rhône-Alpes Isère Tour. It was not just the number of quality performances that Robert Stannard produced which was impressive, but it was the consistency that also impressed.
Between January and June he never failed to produce multiple top ten finishes each month, and then came back for his last race of the year – which was also his biggest at the Tour of Hainan, a 2.HC stage race – and bagged another top ten finish. His talent, which was uncovered in his years racing in New Zealand as a junior rider, and alongside the team at Team Skoda Racing, took a trip down memory lane this year as he lined up for Team Skoda Racing at the New Zealand Cycle Classic last month, wearing the yellow jersey for the day and securing the best young rider’s classification; before then taking 9th place in the Gravel & Tar Classic, which he lined up at as defending champion.
In a team release Stannard said, “I really enjoyed last season with Mitchelton-Scott, and I am really looking forward to working with the team again in 2018. Last year the opportunities I was given were second to none and I have already surpassed my expectations of what I hoped to achieve as a first year U23.”
“This year I want to build on my success of last season and continue my development in order to be ready for the World Tour in 2019.”
Matt White, sport director of the World Tour outfit had no problem singing Robert’s praises, but made clear the value in deferring his World Tour entrance for another year. “Robert is being rated as good as we’ve seen coming out of the Australian development program,” he said. “He is very, very versatile. He can do everything, sprint, time-trial and climb and he is only  years old.”
“That’s the reason why he is not in the professional team now, he is too young. However just like with Rob Power and Caleb Ewan we have identified that he is a super talent and we want to have first crack with him as a professional when the time is right.”