Cofidis rider Oliver Knight was named the Rayner Foundation’s rider of the year last weekend at the charity’s annual gala dinner.
The event is held to raise money to help support Britain’s young cyclists to achieve their dreams overseas.
Twenty-two-year-old Knight is a former stagiaire at Tadej Pogačar’s UAE Emirates squad but signed a two-year deal - his first professional contract - with French WorldTour team Cofidis earlier this summer.
Prior to joining his new team, Knight was supported by the Rayner Foundation for the last four seasons which enabled him to race and train in Europe.
Knight was presented with his award - the Lewis Barry trophy - by Lizzie Deignan, a special guest for the evening at the Royal Armouries in Leeds along with her husband, Phil, a former pro with Team Sky.
After receiving the trophy from Deignan, Knight said: “I’d just like to say a big thank you first of all to my parents, who have been a massive support for all these years I’ve been in cycling.
“I’d also like to give a special mention to my coach, who has been my coach since I was 14-years-old, that’s Roy Chamberlain.
“Then of course it goes without saying that I’ve got to mention the Dave Rayner Foundation and everyone that’s been able to donate over the years. It has been a massive support and thank you everyone for coming along tonight.”
The Rayner Foundation has had yet another exceptional year with three riders turning professional. As well as the recent news that Knight will turn pro, Charlie Paige and Tom Portsmouth will also step up to the pro level with TDT-Unibet and Bingoal WB respectively.
The Foundation has provided opportunities for young British riders to live and race on the continent since 1995 and has provided financial support to riders including David Millar, James Shaw and Adam Yates.
Hosted by cycling commentator Hannah Walker, the evening included the usual raffle as well as a silent and live auction of stacks of cycling memorabilia.
The live auction included a UCI Mountain Bike World Champion’s rainbow jersey, signed by Tom Pidcock and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot as well as Fred Wright’s Tour de France race-worn British national champion’s jersey which was signed by Wright’s entire Bahrain Victorious team.
However, the most sought after prize was a yellow jersey and number from the Critérium du Dauphiné belonging to Brian Robinson which went for £1,000.
Robinson, the first British rider to win a stage of the Tour de France, was formerly president of the foundation but passed away last year.
Joscelin Ryan, rider liaison for the foundation told Cycling Weekly that it was a real joy to celebrate yet another great year for the organisation.
“The dinner was a huge success this year,” Ryan said. “The numbers are growing again and we welcomed lots of new faces. Everyone enjoyed themselves, it’s a really good chance to get together in a way which is becoming a rarity these days.
“Having Lizzie [Deignan] there was wonderful, she gave her time generously. We have had a lot of success with our riders this season and Oliver Knight was a worthy winner of the rider of the year award.
"Thanks to everyone that supported by giving donations to auction and all those that contributed."
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