In years previous, racing in France to discover a skilled contract was a ceremony of passage for aspiring younger British riders. Within the trendy period most riders are expertise noticed within the junior ranks or nationwide growth programmes and are snapped up by the very best WorldTour groups.
That makes Harrison Wooden’s stint in France and Holland with assist from the David Rayner fund after which his step-up to affix Cofidis in 2023 stand out as a slightly atypical path to the skilled peloton. He took the street much less travelled to the WorldTour.
Wooden is at the moment racing the Tour of Oman as a rookie after a formidable two-year spell with the now-defunct SEG Racing Academy sandwiched between stretches at French membership group AV Aix within the south of France and a while within the Soenens-Growth Belgian group.
Wooden will not be the one rider to thrive outdoors of British Biking’s Academy system lately however he is likely one of the few who sought a distinct path from the very outset, opting to move overseas as an adolescent slightly than apply to his federation.
“The GB Academy and what they’ve accomplished and what number of of them have turned professional is fairly unimaginable however I’ve by no means accomplished the monitor, so I believed I’m not likely ever going to be a BC kind of rider. I believed it will be higher for me to go to France and make the leap there, Wooden tells Cyclingnews at the beginning of stage 2 of the Tour of Oman.
“It makes for a distinct type of rider whenever you go away to Europe. James Knox (Soudal-QuickStep) did it to change into a prime, prime WorldTour climber, whereas Matt Partitions (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Ethan Vernon (Soudal-QuickStep) are prime, prime sprinters within the WorldTour after coming by means of the GB Academy. Several types of riders are created in several methods.”
Hailing from Torquay in south-west England, Wooden didn’t begin racing till he was “about 15 or 16” with native membership Mid-Devon CC after which “by means of them the HMT Hospitals Junior group with Mark Barry and Tony Barrett. Then it was onto France, so I’ve been across the block a bit,” the 22-year-old prompt.
After a spell racing often with the Belgian squad Soenens-Growth in addition to in France, Wooden joined the SEG Racing Academy in 2020. Their demise in 2022 was “possibly a blessing in disguise” as Wooden went again to racing in France together with his outdated membership, utilizing his expertise to land a haul of wins and good outcomes.
“From France, I may go on as a stagière with Cofidis and make the leap from there. So in a approach, it’s in all probability factor I didn’t do this third 12 months with SEG,” he defined.
After Bradley Wiggins, David Millar and Rob Hayles within the nineties and noughties, Wooden is simply the fourth British rider ever to race with Cofidis. However there was a spot of practically 15 years since a British rider was final a member of the lengthy standing WorldTour squad.
“Once I see guys like that, Wiggins and Millar had been a part of this group, it’s fairly spectacular and a little bit of stress, as a result of each of them gained Tour levels and one among them gained the Tour de France. So I’ve received rather a lot to dwell as much as,” Woods admitted.
Thus far, Wooden says WorldTour profession is a voyage at midnight. He can climb however is tall and highly effective, and so has nonetheless to seek out his area of interest and position within the peloton. He made his debut on the Tour Down Beneath however his race programme continues to be to be confirmed.
In Oman his primary position is working for Cofidis chief, Jesus Herrada, at the moment within the general race lead after profitable stage 2. However his private objectives sooner or later stay very a lot in place.
“I’d prefer to go down the GC route if attainable. I’m fairly good at time trials, however clearly at WorldTour degree these guys can climb in a short time too,” he mirrored.
“I can do 10 to 20-minute climbs okay however I’ve not likely accomplished something for much longer than 30-40 minutes in racing. When it’s an hour, hopefully, it can go all proper. I’ll simply have to seek out out.”
“I had an enormous crash in June of 2022, so the second half of final season was simply getting again into it. Now it’s extra about getting as a lot racing in as I can and see what’s what, soak it up as a lot as attainable after which subsequent 12 months search for a extra definitive position.”