Jake Stewart bounces back from Vuelta disappointment to take aim at Worlds
British fast man is ready and raring to go for Wollongong, despite leaving Vuelta and a truncated Tour of Britain
There has been quite a lot of travel for Jake Stewart in the last few weeks. First, the 22-year-old started the Vuelta a España for Groupama-FDJ in the Netherlands, before the race made its way to Spain.
He expected that would be his last country for a few weeks, but after falling ill at the Spanish Grand Tour, pulled out and wound up at the Tour of Britain for the GB team. That race was then cancelled early due to the death of the Queen, but that is not an end to the air miles and racing clocked by Stewart this month.
He is part of the eight-man squad which is heading to the World Championships in Wollongong, Australia this week, which begin on Sunday with the elite time trials, and end a week later with the elite men's road race.
Asked about his hectic month, Stewart said that leaving the Vuelta was a "kick in the teeth", but he was glad to be at the Tour of Britain in the warm up to the worlds.
"I've had to do it [change plans] plenty of time this year with illness and whatever," he told Cycling Weekly last week. "Leaving the Vuelta was a bit of a kick in the teeth, but at least I was able to come to the Tour of Britain. It's still good, to get some race days in before the World Championships. That's the main objective.
"It was a shame to leave the Vuelta, a first Grand Tour and a good development opportunity. But you pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and get going again. I did a good training block before the Vuelta so I didn't really want that preparation to go to waste. I'm trying to carry the good legs into the Worlds."
There were three top-eight finishes at his first Grand Tour, which Groupama-FDJ would have been pleased with, although he would have expected more later on in the race.
However, having left the Vuelta ill, Stewart jumped at the chance to race for the GB team last week. He finished second on the stage to Duns, just being edged out by Cees Bol of DSM. Stewart is clearly a man in form, as was also seen on stage four, where he essentially pulled the break back by himself, supposedly attempting to set a sprint up for GB teammate Sam Watson.
"It benefits the team [Groupama-FDJ] just as much it benefits me being able to ride here. It means I don't take up any spots from any other riders in the other races going on at the moment...
"It's nice being back in the national team, it's always a different dynamic to the pro team, having six British lads here, it's always nice. Especially with Sam and Connor [Swift], I've ridden with them quite a bit, but also riding with the three young guys from the academy. They lean on us for the experience and the opportunity, and we're just trying to guide them through the stages as best as possible. It's always a nice dynamic."
Alongside other punchy riders like Fred Wright, Connor Swift and Ethan Hayter, Stewart will be an option for the British team in New South Wales. However, it is the willingness of the group to work for each other which might benefit the squad the most, as seen by Stewart's work for Watson last week.
It is a very different life to the one he is used to at the WorldTour, especially coming from a race as big as the Vuelta.
"It humbles me a bit, going from having full support from a team and a bus and all the staff, and coming here with the national team who clearly don't have as big a budget," Stewart explained. "It grounds you again, it's a nice experience, and you have to do a bit more for yourself. It's always good to muck in and help the staff and the soigneurs, and they can learn quite a bit from me and Connor from being in a pro team."
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Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.
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