Josh Lane and Sam Cook are two parts of the three-man team that will contest the Junior Men’s disciplines at the UCI World Road Championships in Innsbruck. Together with Theo Gilbertson, the trio will be tackling what is set to be one of the harshest world championship courses in recent times. We spoke to Spoken Coaching duo Blair Taylor & Logan Griffin, coaches and mentors for the Waikato duo.
With Josh Lane coached by Blair Taylor and Sam Cook by Logan Griffin, it’s clear to see the influence that Spoken Coaching up in Cambridge has had on this year’s world championship team. To have been able to play a part in the training and mentoring of two of New Zealand’s finest young riders is something that both Taylor or Griffin take great pride in.
“Firstly as I coach I am extremely proud of both the boys Sam and Josh. Sam has been working for me part time for about a year now and was one of my first customers to walk through the door so is really exciting to see his progression,” Blair told us. “Josh well this kid has some talent! I believe that he is the most talented road cyclist I have ever coached, so really excited to see how he goes over in Austria.”
For Logan, the achievement that Cook and Lane have reached in being selected for the World Championships reaches further than themselves. It is something that he sees as a great signpost for Waikato riders in the future. “Seeing these young guys go well is really inspiring and knowing that the opportunities we have here in the Waikato with the regular racing, good training roads, expertise and support can produce young riders of a true world class is just awesome to see.”
Blair Taylor has taken Josh Lane under his wing to this point and has kept a watchful eye in observing Lane’s evolution on the bike. “In terms of strength Josh is very race savvy, always sniffing out the move, strong for a small guy but most importantly what sets him apart is his climbing ability. When you’re 16 years old and make the break at Around Taupo with some strong seasoned riders and can pull the whole way you know you’re going ok!”
True to the demands of the course, Cook is also of similar climbing ilk as Lane. “The course [in Innsbruck] suits Sammy down to a T. He climbs well (you just have to look at him to see that) but his real strength is how punchy he is for someone of his size, we saw that in Abitibi, he can deliver a good sprint or a well timed moved in the final and with how hard the worlds course is there won’t be many riders left with that amount of punch in the final,” Logan said.
Further than Cook’s climbing ability, though, Griffin cites the young rider’s attitude on the bike as crucial to his success thus far and his potential success in Austria. “The other thing that really sets Sam apart is his tenacity in a race, it doesn’t matter the course he’ll see his opportunity and grasp it with both hands. With his size and physiology it would be easy to try pigeonhole him as a climber but he’s also one of the best sub 60kg crit riders and bunch sprinters you’ll come across,” Griffin explained.
The name Josh Lane has been rising in the awareness of New Zealand cycling in the past couple of seasons, but with a string of strong results domestically and abroad, his has been a name that’s been impossible to ignore this season. For Blair Taylor, Lane’s ability to back up with performance after performance repeatedly has really set him apart this year. “Josh has had some strong results this year but I guess one of the biggest things and the one I am most proud of is his consistency. 2nd at Oceania champs, 2nd at Nationals, some string results in Australia in the NRS series and Cycling New Zealand also had an U19 selection camp before the team got named and it sounds like he was super strong there too.”
Sam Cook’s season exploded into life at the Tour de l’Abitibi. After recovering from injury setback towards the end of last year, Cook came very close to a podium finish and took a stage win on top of that. It’s a testament to his ambition and potential that despite the stage win it’s the GC podium that Cook still wishes he’d achieved. “We went in with some pretty ambitious goals and I’m pretty happy that he achieved what he set out to. To win a stage at a race like that is a huge achievement, but I’m sure If you asked Sam he still wishes he could have got on the podium overall. He really went after that in the last couple days but just missed out,” Logan said.
It’s the relationship that Sam and Josh enjoy as fellow riders together that has the potential to make them and Theo Gilbertson a formidable team partnership come race time in Austria. “Josh and Sam are good mates, actually similar bike riders, both tactically smart and good climbers. I’d like to think that if either of them had a chance they would lay it on the line for each other but I also know what they have both sacrificed to make it to worlds,” Blair told us. “Theo is strong as well so hopefully they can get together before the race and come up with a plan and let their legs do the talking.”
The junior men’s individual time trial will be held on 25th September, with the road race on Thursday 27th. To find out more about Blair Taylor, Logan Griffin and Spoken Coaching click here.