It’s a well-trodden path.
With a British domestic scene that offers a somewhat limited chance for development, young riders pack their bike and belongings into a box and head for Belgium, France, Italy and Spain to ply their trade.
And for the last 20 years riders making their first steps towards the professional peloton have been given a helping hand thanks to the Dave Rayner Fund.
The fund, set up in memory of former British pro Dave Rayner who died outside a Bradford nightclub in 1994, helps provide funding for riders to spend the season over on the continent and learn their trade at the sharp end.
A good number of supported riders have gone onto World Tour, Women’s World Tour, Olympic and Commonwealth glory.
Among it’s many success stories are the likes of David Millar and Charlie Wegelius – who were among the first recipients back in 1996 – Adam Yates, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Hannah Barnes, Nikki Harris (now Nikki Brammeier), Molly Weaver and Dan McLay. The list goes on.
But for many it holds much more than the monetary value.
Riders will often talk about how being part of the Dave Rayner Fund is a good ice-breaker when the youngsters of today inevitably bump into those who’ve gone before at races across Europe.
This season Allez! Allez! CC is proud to announce it will be supporting the Dave Rayner Fund and two riders in particular – Kim Baptista and Stuart Balfour.
Kim and Stuart will be writing rider diaries each month during their stints in Holland and France respectively, giving readers a peek into the trials, tribulations and successes as they aim to make it in two of the toughest racing scenes in Europe.
Each month we’ll also be looking back at the careers of some of the riders who have taken the same path as Kim and Stuart in previous years.
On Friday we’ll kick things off with a look back at the 2018 season through the eyes of Ross Lamb and Zak Coleman, who were both supported by the fund last year.
Both spent the season in Belgium – Ross with the long-running (although sadly now defunct) T.Palm–Pôle Continental Wallon squad while Zak, who will be supported by the Dave Rayner Fund again for 2019, raced with the VP Consulting-Zannata Cycling Team.
And in next couple of weeks we’ll introduce you to Kim and Stuart plus we’ll take more in-depth look at the life and legacy of Dave Rayner.
For more information about the Dave Rayner Fund click here.