What do Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep & The Netherlands) with two Scheldeprijs wins to his name, Cees Bol (Team DSM & The Netherlands) with a Nokere Koerse win under his belt and Edoardo Afini (Team Jumbo Visma & Italy) chrono specialist with Italian and European u23 iTT titles on his palmares all have in common?
Apart from being riders of quality on World Tour teams?
They all came up through the Dutch SEG Racing Academy development team.
A team like SEG doesn’t just take on any old rider; there has to be a spark which might light up into a pro career – and an acceptance by recruits of the sacrifices that being a professional rider entails.
Step forward, 20 year-old Sean Flynn from Edinburgh; four times a British Champion at youth and junior level, he’s on the SEG roster for season 2021; an achievement in itself… best ‘have a word.’
How did you get into the sport, Sean?
“My parents cycled a bit and I used to go mountain biking in the Scottish Borders, I did other sports but liked cycling best and joined the Edinburgh Road Club in my early teens, it’s all gone on from there.”
And you are four times British Champion?
“Yes, I was youth criterium and MTB champion in 2018 then junior ‘cross and MTB champion in 2019.”
A ride with SEG, that’s impressive, given their standards.
“I’ve been talking to them for a while; they’re interested in getting into mountain biking so we’re hoping to progress in line with each other and I was confident about accepting the place.
“I have the best of both worlds because I have SEG support for the road and for MTB – because it’s SEG first venture into the MTB scene – I’ll have backing from the GB team for the big races such as World Cups.”
Have you got your team bike yet?
“Yes, I’ve been riding it for about a month and it’s a nice machine; a ‘Dare’ frame, high end carbon from Taiwan.
“I still have to get my time trial bike.”
Where will you be based?
“Ideally I’d like to be based in Girona, Spain – I’ve stayed there before and like it but at the moment there are the travel restrictions so it’s hard to make firm plans.
“During the season it’ll be The Netherlands.”
How does a dual road/MTB programme work?
“In March, April, May my focus will be on the road, u23 Classics in The Netherlands, Belgium and Northern France, they’re what the team wants me to target in the spring.
“Then, as the MTB World Cups start I’ll cross over to riding them – but also stage races on the road.
“Towards the end of the season, if I have the results, I’ll be hoping to ride the Road and MTB Worlds.
There’s also a slight chance of an Olympic ride but GB only has one confirmed spot and Tom Pidcock has expressed his desire to ride…”
Do you have any international cyclo-cross ambitions; you were top six in the junior European Championships in 2017?
“I do, it’s a discipline I like and have had some success with in the past but I’ve had to choose what I want to do.
“Unless you’re ‘special’ like Mathieu Van Der Poel or Wout Van Aert it’s difficult to do all road, MTB and ‘cross.
“However, it’s something I may get back to in the future.”
Will your coaching be ‘split’ too?
“Yes, it’ll be a combination, depending on the time of year; SEG will look after me for the road and GB for the MTB.
“I’ve been working with both for the last couple of months so that’s already begun.”
You rode the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire, tell us about that experience.
“It was one of my best experiences on the bike, it was great and one of the reasons that I want to do more on the road.
“To be in the same peloton as the guys I looked up to when I was younger, riders like Cav and Chris Froome, was humbling.
“It was inspiring and demonstrated to me the level these World Tour guys are at; I spent much of the first day in the break and realised that I didn’t know as much about bike racing as I thought I did.”
“It was hard but I’m more fortunate than many, I kept healthy and was able to get out on the MTB.
“The road calendar was decimated but I was able to take advantage of a strong late season MTB calendar; I was second in the U23 XCO British Nationals and had a top 10 finish in a UCI Elite XCO in Spain – and was able to ride the World Cups, Europeans and Worlds.”
How has the winter preparation been going?
“It’s been going well, all according to plan albeit it would be nice to be somewhere warm and sunny away from the rain and snow.
“I was supposed to go to a team training camp at Calpe in Spain but the Covid travel restrictions have put paid to that.
“I haven’t had to have to resort to that many ‘turbo days’ though.”
What’s season 2021 about?
“I’m looking to take a step up; my first two years at u23 level have been good but I want to progress.
“I have a lot to learn on the road and going to SEG puts me in a good position to do that with their experience and the extra road events I’ll be riding.
“I’m hoping that brings me on and boosts my level on the MTB – everything needs to move on…”
VeloVeritas will be keeping an eye on those u23 road results in the spring and we wish Sean well on his journey.