Talent isn’t the only quality you need to ‘make it’ in cycling, Lady Luck plays a big part; ‘right time, right place’, but of vital importance is persistence.
As Winston Churchill said; ‘never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never.’
Former British Junior Road Race Champion, Jacob Vaughan must have read that quotation.
We last spoke to Jacob back at the start of 2018 when he was about to join the Lotto development team. So far, so good.
However, it’s not been a smooth passage for the now 21 years-old Londoner since then, but that persistence of his sees him living to fight another season, this one with experienced French talent spotter, Christophe Andre’s, CC Étupes in France.
[We’ll be bringing you an interview with ‘star maker’ Christophe on VeloVeritas shortly, ed.]
We caught up with Jacob not long after the turn of the year.
First question, or I get a row from Ms. Jos Ryan. Are you still a Dave Rayner Fund man?
“Yes, I’m happy to report that I am; they’ve been a huge help to me over the past seasons and continue to be so.”
“It was a nice team with good support and great training camps, but very Belgian-oriented.
“My first two months went well but then I had a bad crash suffering a concussion and had to go home to recuperate.
“I didn’t feel right and it transpired that I had an iron and B12 deficiency…
“Then I broke my collarbone…
“All of that meant – with so much time off – I was constantly fighting to get back to full fitness.
“Towards the end of the season I was improving but because I wasn’t at my best I dedicated myself to doing a team job.
“The team was understanding but at the end of the year they were cutting back from 25 to 20 riders and I was let go.”
UK Continental team, Canyon for 2019 – and a great start, winning the legendary English season-opener, the Perf’s Pedal Race.
“It was a good set up with good guys, it felt comfortable to be speaking English and among guys I knew.
“There was a realisation though that I was getting paid to do this and had a job to do for the team.
“I didn’t get a lot of opportunities to ride for myself that season and had more than my fair share of punctures and crashes.”
You made a nice start to 2020 with a win in the GP Koen Barbé in Belgium.
“Yes, that was early March.
“Prior to that we rode the UCI 1.2 Craft Ster van Zwolle in The Netherlands at the end of February. I got across from the second echelon to the front – all the best u23 teams were there, SEG, Jumbo, Leopard – so I knew I had good legs. David Dekker won it for SEG and he’s with Team Jumbo-Visma for this season
“I had a crash after that and wasn’t feeling great but still managed the GP Koen Barbé kermis win in early March at Sint-Maria-Lierde.”
How was your lockdown?
“I was staying over in Zottegem and news of everything stopping cracked me a bit because I was going well.
“Initially we were told it would just be for a couple of weeks so I had a couple of days off; but cleaning my bike I managed to break my hand!
“I was a bit down with it all but got on the turbo and stayed over in Belgium until May, when I came back to the UK heading back out to Belgium in August – then heard I from management I didn’t have a ride for 2021.”
And now with CC Étupes for 2021?
“I’ve known and been in touch with Christophe Andre from the team since I was a junior, but then I got the Lotto opportunity.
“He sent me a message saying they were looking for a Classics rider, we spoke and I was offered a ride – for which I’m very grateful.”
How does your programme look?
“We have a five race series in February, French Cups and UCI races like the Fleche Ardennaise, Mirabelle Tour and Paris-Roubaix; so it’s an excellent programme.”
Belgium to France, a change of culture and parcours…
“The programme has a real mix of races which I think will suit me, I’m not a massive rider so I do like races with hills where you can break things up.
“That Belgian kermis I won at the start of the year had a climb in it and that suited me.”
Where will you be based?
“Besancon. The team provide accommodation, bike clothing, coaching support and all my travel, so it’s an excellent set-up.
“Christophe Andre has brought a lot of good riders on in the past; Alexis Vuillermoz, Thibaut Pinot, Kenny Ellisonde, Petr Vakoc, Adam Yates, Warren Barguill, Daniel Lloyd, Jez Hunt…”
How has the winter training gone for you?
“It’s gone well, my condition is good, I’ve done a fair bit but not too much, something I’ve been guilty of in the past.
“My training now is more specific, that’s thanks to my coach, Kenny Wilson of Elevation Coaching; he’s Scottish but lives in Ireland, it’s good to have an English-speaking coach so there are no barriers.
“I’m looking to be at my best from mid-March to May, the Classics season, then we’ll re-evaluate.”
Season 2021 is all about…?
“Ideally it’s about trying to get a ProTeam or World Tour ride and stepping-up.
“I’ll be riding high level u23 races so will have every opportunity to get noticed.
“I’ll be trying hard to get a professional contract.”
VeloVeritas thanks Jacob for his time and wishes him well.