We met the young talents facing down the Brexit-covid barrage in order to fulfil their dreams of making it in Europe

Eighteen months ago the dream of beginning a career on the Continent in earnest seemed like it was just a step away from fruition for a whole raft of young British hopefuls.

But many of those riders didn't even race last year and now in 2021, with a return to something more normal on the cards, Brexit has battered them from a different angle with its 90-day visitor's limit. Cycling Weekly spoke to a bunch of young riders funded by the Rayner Foundation and found that even if the red tape isn't particularly willing, the spirit certainly isn't weak.

Joe Laverick (Hagens Berman-Axeon, Spain)

Living in Girona, hoping for a residency permit. "It's just a nightmare to be honest. It's that simple. I am in the process of applying for residency out here. Which is kind of my Willy Wonka golden ticket to the whole situation. 

"Also added in is that covid is stopping a lot of governments issuing visas, so we've got the dual covid-Brexit battle to be fighting.

Alex Haines (GSC Blagnac 31, France)

Living in the UK, waiting to head out to his team in France. "I applied for a talent visa a few weeks ago, and I got it denied. But my team has a Canadian rider on it, who also applied for the talent visa — he got accepted. So I don't know what to think."

"The team were really helpful in giving me what seemed like a really good letter of recommendation about how they really want me on the team, and it's really important that I get the visa. Telling the team that it got denied, that was a little bit stressful.

"But the team have put no pressure on me to get across quickly. The DS is a really nice guy.

Emily Wadsworth (NXTG Racing, Netherlands)

Currently living in Sitaard, Netherlands, thinking about a temporary visa. "There is no definitive answer of what we should be doing right now. Everyone I speak to has a different way. I've got some friends who are committing to the 90 days and flying in and out. I know some people who are trying to get work visas, some people are getting temporary residences.

Some people are getting visas in other countries... but then also there's a lot of people like me, who are here but haven't actually got anything fully sorted yet. You're just here, hoping that something comes up.

Read the article including the full interviews with these riders and more on the challenges facing this year in the March 25 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine. If you're not going out you can get individual issues of the magazine delivered, or subscribe and take advantage of our Spring Sale and get five issues for £5.00

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 

Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.

A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.