Southend Wheelers' star signs for top
British cycling squad
Ipswich-based professional cycling team Pedal Power RT has signed a
talented teenager from Leigh-on-Sea ahead of the new national road
Robert Staines, who has been a member of Southend Wheelers for the past 3 years, has impressed with a string of excellent performances in amateur races, not least winning Essex’s 2018 Travers MTB Series mountain bike championship and taking top ten finishes in national events.
Now the 19-year old is poised to make the jump to the second tier of Britain’s domestic road racing scene, with opportunities to race the country’s top professionals in selected events, such as the Lincoln Grand Prix.
Commenting on the qualities that inspired him to offer Robert a berth with Pedal Power RT team manager James Fletcher said: “The reasons I wanted Robert to be part of the team are 1) we need a rider with sprinting potential to complete the roster, 2) we want to help develop younger riders who would benefit from being part of a cohesive operation and he fits that bill and 3) he has talent, plus a no-fear attitude that’s combined with a determination and dedication to win and we need this in our team.”
Southend Wheelers club chairman Barry Simpson says he is delighted that yet another of the club’s youngsters has been given a chance to live out his dream: “Albeit that all of us at the Wheelers will be sad to lose Robert’s great strength and ability from local club events, I am thrilled that he has been given this wonderful opportunity. It reflects very well on Robert and his obvious talent and he thoroughly deserves it.”
He adds: “Robert is also the latest in a succession of young riders to progress from Southend Wheelers to higher level racing; other graduates include George Wood, Simon Alexander and James Jenkins. I hope their success will inspire other riders in our club, and in general, that they too can follow in their wheel tracks. For us to see local talent recognised and handed a chance to become a professional racer is very rewarding and satisfying.”
Staines will join a small roster of just six riders in the team and believes his task in his maiden season will simply be to learn what racing at National A and B standard is like. He says: “James (Fletcher), told me that although I haven’t got much experience, I can help the guys in the National B races. I’m hoping that I will also be included in the squad for the Rás Mumhan, which is a stage race held in County Kerry in Ireland during Easter. If I do well, I could be picked for National A events, like the Lincoln Grand Prix. It’s all about learning how to race at this level. I’m currently a Category 2 licence holder but I’m aiming to become a 1st Cat’ by the ned of the year.”
Reflecting on his call up to the Pedal Power RT team, Robert says: “When I was doing my A Levels, I thought about what I would do after my exams. I didn’t want to go to university or commit myself to a full-time career, so I took a job at The Mayflower pub in Old Leigh. Now, I have a chance to live my dream but will still need to pull pints to pay the bills.”
Staines’ first race of the season for Pedal Power RT will be the Jock Wadley Memorial Road Race in Colchester on Sunday, March 10. Often held in gruelling conditions, Robert says the team’s expectations are realistic: “James told me that my job will be to help my team-mates as best I can, get round the course and stay in the bunch. The weather is often cold, windy and wet, so that will almost be as challenging as the competition around me.”
Robert Staines in race action at Hog Hill