The Contract Season

July – October. It’s the time of year where riders are in the peak of their discussions in the search for a contract to sign. While for others, they can simply continue on with their work, safe for another year. Pro cycling is a hard battle. It’s not always an easy ride especially with the general length of contracts only lasting between 2-3years maximum. Unless you’re proving yourself to be a consistent winner or an incredibly hard working teammate, you might just slip straight under the watchful eyes of the big teams and join the large pool of cyclists chasing that professional dream.
I wouldn’t say I’m super happy with my season - because naturally everyone would like to win more and be better - but despite some good results, a couple of wins and many podiums places, I found myself as just another professional looking for a job and hoping for an opportunity to show the potential I have to give. I’m very fortunate enough to know a few influential names in the cycling world, and it’s thanks to these people that my name was put on the table in front of various teams who I was chasing a contract from. The usual rider management system is what most riders can rely on to help secure a deal and leave the communication between managers, saving you the time, effort and stress of it all. For me this season, I was on my own, and hoped that results and teams would find their way and what was meant to be would be. The process turned out to be a lot harder, and was more stressful and emotionally draining than I expected. Not only for me, but for my family as well who were riding every promise and every rejection as I was. I sent many emails, shared my power files and even created a personal one-page bio/athlete summary that had been put together with the help and experience from my mum and girlfriend. This definitely aided some negotiations, but the waiting and the silence from some teams was a little frustrating and being patient was hard.
The time of year is always a big one for the rumor mill, which starts to spread stories both true and false about riders, teams and their contracts. It’s a crazy world but sometimes all you need is a good word from a fellow rider, staff member or a sponsor with some financial backing behind you and the doors will open. I’ve heard many former and current riders on the professional scene who’ve paid their own way, had sponsors pay their wage for the team or even taken big pay-cuts just to get that professional contract. Some riders earn it through hard work and dedication, others just know the right people and have the money to negotiate their way, but this year it seemed the biggest consideration for the WT teams was UCI WT points and if you had them – they were worth gold! I have learnt that you have to keep working on your whole package, not just the numbers, the Strava times or performance data, but your mental focus, preparation, physical condition, decision making skills and your down right hunger to race a bike and win races! With the 2017 merger between Cannondale and Drapac announced during the year, both teams were ineligible to compete in a race together under UCI regulations. This meant we missed out on a lot of good racing opportunities that we had been lucky enough to experience in 2015. But looking back on 2016, I was given plenty of opportunities from Drapac and I truly have to thank the team and my teammates for their hard work and dedication.
In 2017, I would have loved to find another Pro-Continental team to race with, but despite last ditch efforts to communicate with teams, with the help from Belgium manager Dries Smets late in the piece, I took up an offer from British Continental Team, JLT Condor. I firstly have to thank the team’s General Manager, John Herety for his patience during the contract negotiation period and the opportunity that he has given me for 2017. As someone who has been there and done it himself, he has already offered me some valuable advice and I am looking forward to spending more time learning what I can from him. I can now make the most of my dual-citizenship to live overseas during the racing season and embark on a new adventure. I wanted to continue racing my bike, giving it my best and enjoying the many places that cycling takes me around the world. I’ll continue to push through the hard times, to make the most of the good ones! The team roster looks promising, consisting of many young talents and some very experienced riders who I’m sure will help mentor the up and coming young guys. I will be one of two Australian’s on the team, teaming up with Robert-Jon McCarthy who is returning from a year away from the sport. The team will compete in Australia over the summer, taking part in races like the Bay Crits and Herald Sun Tour - races I thoroughly enjoy so it will be a great start to the season before heading to the UK to compete in the Tour Series. Recently I’ve enjoyed some well-earned time off the bike, taking to the beaches and kayaking around Noosa where I spent a few days on holiday with my girlfriend Lucy before getting back into pre-season training and taking part in some local club races here in Melbourne.
Everything in life is meant to be, so I’ll be taking the opportunity to work harder, become a better athlete, strive to achieve my goals and prove to many people who said ‘no’ and told me I’m not good enough, that I am. I have what it takes and if I can come back from the many setbacks and hurdles I’ve faced throughout my career, then I can continue on the path to achieving my dreams next year. I’m really looking forward to wearing new team colours in 2017 and starting the year off with a bang during the summer of cycling! “The fact that you’re not where you want to be should be enough motivation.” – Instagram – The GoodQuote.


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