BEAT Cycling 2020 photo shoot. Photo: Stephan de Goede
Answering the questions this time is Adam Lewis, the young British rider with Dutch UCI Continental team BEAT Cycling.
From his early days on the outdoor velodrome with Wolverhampton Wheelers to his current racing life in Belgium, Adam talks about the financial support from the Dave Rayner Fund which was critical to making his current career possible and the importance he gives to personal development.
TGC: Tell us a bit about your background Adam. How did you get into cycling? Does the sport run in the family?
AL: I’ve been involved in cycling for around ten years now, gradually increasing my level of commitment to the sport as I progressed into the senior ranks. I started cycling by fluke really, just to get me out of the house and to stop playing video games. There is no family history in the sport so no super genes unfortunately! I started alongside my younger brother down at the local club to us Wolverhampton Wheelers, they have an outdoor velodrome to run sessions on each Friday evening for youth riders. We both took to it straight away and haven't really looked back since!
TGC: When did you think it could become more than just a hobby?
AL: As I entered my last year as a junior I started to take things more seriously on the road. I’d had some good results on the track up to that point but was by no means setting the world alight on the road. I had some decent results in my final year as a junior and had basically fallen in love with the sport so I decided then to see how far I could pursue it.
TGC: What level of education did you get to before you committed your efforts to cycling?
AL: I’d just finished my A levels and actually started university doing an Accountancy course before I had the opportunity to move abroad. I did the first couple of months at University before committing fully to cycling.
BEAT Cycling Photo shoot on the Paterberg. Photo: Stephan de Goede
TGC: Tell us more about BEAT Cycling Club which I understand is a Dutch UCI Continental team with a club model?
AL: Yes, it’s a Dutch UCI Continental team with big ambitions for the future! The club started in 2016 with the idea of building a sustainable cycling model rather than relying purely on sponsor revenue. This means we are very much focused on building a community around the team, having ‘club’ members join us and offering them different things such as experiences, challenges and insights! So far it’s working well and the team has ambitions to step up to ProTeam status.
TGC: How did you end up there?
AL: I came into contact with them during the 2018 season, whilst I was racing for a Belgian Conti outfit. I was doing the usual, emailing my CV off to teams when I had a response from BEAT. We agreed to meet at the next races we were doing together and fortunately these were two of my best performances of the season. I got in the break and came 11th one day in a 1.1 race and the next day 4th in a 1.2 race. We agreed to keep in contact for the rest of the season and I eventually signed the contract in September!
“The big reason being based in Europe was to have a full UCI race calendar available to me, something which most UK teams don’t have at the moment.”
Adam mixing it with Greg van Avermaet and Peter Sagan at Gooikse Pijl (UCI 1.1). Photo: Fabienne Vanheste
TGC: What are the advantages of and the challenges you face riding for a European Conti team?
AL: I’d say the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages in this situation. As I have spent most of the year based in Belgium for a number of seasons, I’ve now made some lifelong friends and experienced things I wouldn’t have had the chance to do so living back home. Also, the big reason being based in Europe was to have a full UCI race calendar available to me, something which most UK teams don’t have at the moment. Fair play to Canyon (TGC: Canyon dhb p/b Soreen), they are probably the only team which has that! On top of that, living abroad helps you learn a new language, which is a good life skill away from sport. I’m not fully fluent in Dutch yet but I can understand the majority of conversations and can hold my own if needs be! Obviously, living away from home has made an already expensive sport a lot more so. Fortunately, during my U23 years, I had the support of the Dave Rayner Fund to make life a little less stressful. I have always wanted to race the Tour of Yorkshire and Britain so not racing for UK conti team makes that quite a challenge but those are races I would love to get stuck into over the next couple of seasons!
“The Dave Rayner Fund supported me, they were a massive help both financially and mentally! I wouldn’t be in this position without them.”
TGC: What are your ambitions within the sport?
AL: To reach the highest level I possibly can and have no regrets looking back. So far I can look back year on year and see that I have progressed each time. In the short term, we have a great programme of racing lined up for the end of this season, all being well! There are a couple in particular which should suit me. I have been working hard during this ‘lockdown’ period to come into these races all guns blazing!
KOM in Halle Ingooigem (UCI 1.1). Photo: Serge Cornelus
TGC: The majority of riders at UCI Conti level race without a full time salary. How do you fund your cycling career?
AL: When I started out living in Belgium, in the U23 ranks, the Dave Rayner Fund supported me, they were a massive help both financially and mentally! I wouldn’t be in this position without them. Now I’ve joined BEAT I am fortunate enough to receive a salary. It’s not much by any means but it’s just enough to cover the bills and get me by alright!
“When I’ve finished my riding career, I’d love to stay within the sport in some capacity so during lockdown I’ve taken a coaching course to give me one option.”
TGC: I read in an interview you did with VeloUK that you often think about what you will do when you stop riding. What ideas are you exploring?
AL: Yeah, it's only been the past couple of seasons in which I’ve started thinking which is something I regret. Now I have been involved in the sport for so long, I’ve gained a lot of experiences and knowledge I’d like to pass on. When I’ve finished my riding career, I’d love to stay within the sport in some capacity so during lockdown I’ve taken a coaching course to give me one option. I’m pretty thorough and meticulous in everything I do so I think that could work well for me. I’ve also found over the past couple of years that in the downtime off the bike I cannot just sit around and do nothing like I could when I was younger, I like to be productive with my time and feel like I’m achieving something!
Adam getting the knee down. Photo: Pascal vande Putte
TGC: Is there any support for riders to help them figure out options off the bike, either whilst they are riding or when they stop?
AL: Well, I have not stopped riding yet so cannot answer for that but I don’t think there is a great deal out there really. I think, that as in many walks of life, there is help out there but you have to be proactive and go searching for it!
“Definitely think about self-improvement off the bike, there is a lot of downtime within elite sport which gives the opportunity for this.”
TGC: What kind of support in this area do you think riders might find useful?
AL: There is definitely room within the sport for someone or a company to offer a helping hand to riders. Someone that riders can talk to and then get some advice on how to approach things.
TGC: Any words of wisdom for young riders thinking of following a similar path to you?
AL: Enjoy it and don’t get too caught up in all the small details at too young of an age. Keep your options open at all times and talk to as many people as possible, a lot of the time it's about who you know rather than what you know, so try not to make too many enemies! Also definitely think about self-improvement off the bike, there is a lot of downtime within elite sport which gives the opportunity for this.
TGC: Any thoughts on changes within the sport that might help young riders break through?
AL: There are a lot more solely U23 teams these days with the focus on developing riders on and off the bike, which I think can only be a good thing. Giving them full resources to be the best they can be. The Dave Rayner Fund does a great job in supporting riders too. I also think people are a lot more open and happier to help riders who show they are committed whereas maybe in the past it was more closed off. I think BC could help the situation a lot more, for example, we are probably one of the only countries which does not offer a separate U23 Road Nationals which is pretty crazy when you consider how much cycling talent is coming through right now!
The GC would like to thank Adam for sharing his insights and experiences as a rider.
We wish him and BEAT Cycling every success for the future. If you would like to know more about the race team please visit their website www.beatcyclingclub.com
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