Chris Lawless: 'It makes it more special to turn pro with a British team like Sky'

The young British rider will make his racing debut with Team Sky at next week's Tour Down Under

Chris Lawless
(Image credit: Team Sky)

Chris Lawless debuts as a professional and in Team Sky's black, white and blue colours next week in Australia at the 2018 Tour Down Under, a "special" moment for the British cyclist.

After years in Team Wiggins, JLT Condor and Axeon Hagens Berman, 22-year-old Lawless will ride alongside many top stars in the first WorldTour race of the season.

>>> Team Sky’s eight new recruits for 2018

"I think as a British rider it does make it a bit more special to turn pro with a British team, and I think it makes it a bit easier as well," Lawless said.

"There have been times in the past for young British riders where they've had to go to an Italian speaking team and as well as trying to learn all the stuff around moving up to the WorldTour, they've had to learn a new language as well.

"So hopefully it will be a bit easier for me to get a lot of experience from the first year because I'm not concentrating on learning another language as well, and trying to decipher what's being said in team meetings."

Already in Adelaide, he and the team have trained and were even stopped by the police for a traffic violation. He will race his debut in Sky kit at the People's Choice Classic, a non-ranked criterium, and two days later, starting the WorldTour-ranked six-day Tour Down Under.

"The thing I'm most excited about for 2018 is pulling that kit on for the first time and racing in it. It's my first ever pro team so it will be something special to do. I'm really excited for it and can't wait to get to the first race of the year," he said.

"Me and my agent were talking to a few teams but Team Sky had always really appealed to me, seeing as they're the biggest team in the world, and it helps that they're British as well.

"Then I went on a training camp with the team in Livigno in July and I really seemed to fit in well. Everyone was really friendly and just made it easy to be on the training camp. It was a nice environment to be in and when I got the offer I jumped at it and signed it straight away."

The British under 23 champion joins a fresh-faced young team in Adelaide for the race. The seven men include Lawless, Brits Jon Dibben and Owain Doull, Italian Salvatore Puccio, Colombian Egan Bernal, Pole Lukasz Wisniowski and Norwegian Kristoffer Halvorsen.

"Going over there with a young team should be pretty fun. [Salvatore] Puccio is the most experienced guy we've got and he's not old really! It should be good seeing how we all bounce off each other and I'm sure we'll all be really enthusiastic to get up there and get stuck in."

It is the only British team racing in the Australia and the only one in the top tier WorldTour.

Though a super-team with stars Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, Lawless should find space in races like the Tour Down Under, and smaller stage races and some one-day Classics, perhaps the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, this spring.

In 2017, he attacked and sprinted to several places and victories, including a stage in the Tour de l'Avenir. This year, he will try to develop in every area and become more of an all-around rider.

"In my first year with Team Sky I'd like to fit in well with the team and experience different roles within the team, whether that's riding on the front or getting bottles – whatever it is. Then hopefully at some point I'll get the opportunity to lead on a stage or a one-day race," he added.

"Hopefully, I'll get to race on some British roads too – that's always special. I've done that a few times before at the Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain. The crowds are always amazing."

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