The 2024 road season brings with it 44 new faces in the WorldTour peloton as another batch of neo-pros make the step up to the top level of pro cycling. EF Education-EasyPost alone are bringing through seven of those youngsters as part of a youth revolution at the American squad.
Son of Joseba, Markel Beloki, is among them, as is Giro della Valle d’Aosta champion Darren Rafferty. Another rider taking his first steps as a pro this year is the 21-year-old Briton Jack Rootkin-Gray.
Fresh off a season with British Conti squad Saint Piran which saw him win the Ringerike GP, take fourth at the Junior Worlds in Glasgow, and race among WorldTour pros in Norway and Britain, he made his WorldTour bow at the season-opening Tour Down Under.
Before heading to Australia, Rootkin-Gray took time out from training in Tenerife to talk to Cyclingnews about his big move, how he got his start in cycling, his highlights and struggles so far, and his racing ambitions.
Cyclingnews: You’re turning pro with EF this year. How have you’re first experiences with the team been?
Jack Rootkin-Gray: I came to Tenerife from training camp and then to Australia from the 30th for the Tour Down Under so that’ll be pretty cool. Camp was super busy – you don’t realise how much you do other than cycling. There’s a lot more to the job.
I know it’s the first camp and there’s a lot more media and other things involved, maybe more than normal. There was so much going on with meetings and presentations. It feels like you haven’t done any riding even though we’ve done 19 hours in six days or something. There’s just so much else going on.
I’ve met one or two people before but everyone was really friendly. It was really nice time. I didn’t expect how nice they’d be. I roomed with Archie Ryan at camp and by the end of the week it felt like we’d known each other for years.
CN: Do you have your neo-pro season all planned out already?
JR-G: I’ve had my full calendar. I don’t know if I’m allowed to share or not but the Tour Down Under is the first one. Then after that, I’ll have a bit of a quieter February and then do some Classics. Then some other stuff before Nationals because you only get half the year planned.
I think [racing the cobbles] will be part of my role within the team, to do that calendar of races. I really like those races so that’ll be good.
CN: You’ve spent a year with Saint Piran after moving up from the juniors and you’ve already done some .Pro level races like the Tour of Britain and Tour of…