Red Walters becomes first stagiaire in new diversity initiative set up by Hagens Berman Axeon and Tao Geoghegan Hart

Former Hagens Berman Axeon rider, Tao Geoghegan Hart set up the scheme to bring more cultural and racial diversity into the sport

Red Walters
(Image credit: Future/Dan Gould)

Hagens Berman Axeon and Tao Geoghegan Hart have revealed who is the stagiaire recruited in their newly created cultural and racial diversity scheme.

Red Walters is a 22-year-old British rider who has been riding in France at under 23 races this year, despite facing significant hurdles to get there due to Brexit and Covid-19.

Geoghegan Hart announced in February his desire to sponsor a rider to join his old team as a step towards improving diversity in cycling, with the 2020 Giro d'Italia champion saying cycling has not done enough to address the ongoing issues of underrepresented groups within the sport.

The British Ineos Grenadiers rider joined forces with his old team, Hagens Berman Axeon to get this started with Walters one of the first riders to get into contact with them when the scheme was announced.

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In a team press release, Geoghegan Hart said: "We were immediately impressed with [Red's] enthusiasm and the data that he shared with us. However, both Axel [Merckx] and I were really persuaded by his commitment and determination to go over to France to race. 

"Walters is in his last year of the u23 category, but we hope we can help him make it a final few months to remember, and vitally, an important stepping stone in his career and development as a cyclist."

Walters has spent his last couple of years jumping between teams after riding for Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother, but he was not picked once to race for the team. He then managed second place at the London Six Day before joining Nopinz-Symec where he put in good performances but was forced to leave the team in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, switching to ride with the Black Cyclist Network race team.

Speaking in the same press release, Walters said: "When Tao told me I'd be selected, I was honestly over the moon. I can't emphasise enough how hard I tried to get this kind of opportunity for this year, so to get the chance to race with an U23 team of this calibre in my final year as an U23 is incredible. On top of that, I'm really excited about the calendar and having a chance to get more experience racing at this level."

Walters was also keen to praise Geoghegan Hart for setting up this stagiaire scheme along with Hagens Berman Axeon.

"It's well known that cycling is hugely lacking in diversity," Walter said, "and while we are slowly making progress at the grassroots level, it hasn't seemed to me like there was a lot of acknowledgement from the higher levels in the sport.

“So to go out there and actually make that commitment and take action is really commendable in my opinion. 

"Then from my personal perspective, of course, it was an opportunity I jumped at. I knew the value of it and was incredibly motivated to do everything I could to give myself the best chance of being given the opportunity."

It's not yet known where Walters will make his first appearance for the American team.

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