The young Welsh climber who is mak­ing head­lines in Europe

Procycling - - PROLOGUE -

This is the rider who won the Ronde de l’Isard, right?

That’s the one. Ste­vie be­came the first Bri­tish win­ner of the pres­ti­gious U23 French stage race held in the pic­turesque Ariège. He won the first two stages of the race, which both fin­ished on a climb. He then sur­vived a late punc­ture on the fourth and fi­nal day to hold on to the yel­low jersey. A month later, he was fifth over­all at the Baby Giro. Along the way, he had a spell in the leader’s jersey and took a stage win. Oh, and he was also top 10 at the U23 Liège-Bas­togne-Liège back in the spring.

That’s quite a year. What does Ste­vie think of it?

He said: “To come away with the first two stages and the GC in Isard, that was re­ally some­thing spe­cial and the first break­through per­for­mance for me. I wanted to go to Italy and back it up and sort of prove that I could do it again. The rac­ing in Italy is a lot dif­fer­ent to France, so I wanted to prove that I could do it in both coun­tries.”

Fair to say he’s a climber then?

He cer­tainly is. Ste­vie weighs only 59 ki­los, and jokes he’s “dead lanky”. Two years ago, The 22-year-old left the UK and the JLT-Con­dor team for the Dutch SEG Rac­ing Academy in or­der to get more rac­ing in the moun­tains. He spent 2017 learn­ing the ropes on the Con­ti­nent. He grew in con­fi­dence and this year, he’s felt strong enough to press home with his at­tacks.

What else should we know about young Ste­vie?

Ste­vie’s a late­comer to cy­cling. He was 16 when he started rac­ing. He moved to Girona when he joined SEG, but this year based him­self back home in Aberys­t­wyth so he could spend time with friends. He finds that helps keep his morale high. The train­ing roads are good too, he adds.

What else has 2018 got in store for him?

Dur­ing the Tour, Bahrain-Merida an­nounced they’d signed him for 2019 and that he’d fin­ish 2018 as a sta­giaire. Up­com­ing tar­gets in­clude the Tour de l’Avenir and the Inns­bruck Worlds, but they de­pend on Bri­tish Cy­cling se­lec­tion.

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