Making the transition from Team Wiggins, British rider Jake Kelly will join ONE Pro Cycling in 2018. A former U23 British Cycling Academy rider, Kelly will be aiming for a strong start to 2018 following a season stopping leg injury in 2017. Returning to the British scene with ONE Pro Cycling, the 22-year-old Manxman is looking forward to settling in with his new team and adding a few race results to his name.
Jake Kelly, it’s great to welcome you to the team. Firstly, tell us a little bit about your cycling background, what age were you when you found your love for cycling?
“When I was 14 years old, I spent a lot of time going out mountain biking with my brother, we both just really enjoyed it. Of course it was quite competitive, we used to race each other all the time. We’d go out training but we didn’t really know what we were doing, we would just ride the hills and go flat out and try and beat each other or sprint for signs.
I eventually moved to road cycling with Team Royal London 360 and started racing my local races on the Isle of Man. Team Royal is still run by Dot Tilbury who manages a lot of the youth cycling on the Isle of Man. Dot is a lovely lady who does a lot for youth cycling. It was and still is a really good set up to get kids involved.”
You loved mountain biking but who or what influenced you to try road cycling?
“Living on the Isle of Man I was influenced by a lot of top class athletes. I had Mark Cavendish, Peter Kennaugh and a few other lads like Mark Christian and Johnny Bellis out training on the roads on a daily basis. Jut seeing what they were doing made me want to get involved in road racing. I started going on the local club runs and they would be on them as well. I would just hang on for as long as I could, riding next to them and chatting with them, which spurred me on to pursue cycling as a career.”
Successfully competing for your local team, where did you go next? What path did you take to get where you are now?
“In 2011 I got selected for the Great Britain Talent Team when I was 16 years old with Matt Winston as my Coach. However when I moved up to juniors I didn’t get reselected so I made the decision to go back to the isle of Man Junior Team and get a few more road races under my belt including racing the British National Road Series
In 2014 during my first year as an U23 I became a Dave Rayner funded rider and I had the opportunity to live in Belgium and ride for a team called Illi Bikes. Having learnt and developed from my time on the cobbles, I was selected for the Great British Cycling Team Academy, competing in the European Championships on the track and Nations Cups on the road. After that, I decided I wanted to focus on the road instead of the track, so at the end of 2015 I signed a two-year contract with Team Wiggins.”
Unfortunately your season didn’t go as planned with an injury forcing you to sit out for the majority of the British Calendar. Can you talk us through what happened?
“No it didn’t go to plan. In March 2017, during my second year with Team Wiggins, I snapped my leg during the Rhodes Grand Prix in Greece. With 100m to go there was a right hand corner and I slid out, hitting a barrier and breaking my tibia and fracturing my fibula. Needless to say I didn’t get a chance to go much racing for the rest of the season.
It was May before I was able to get back on my bike and do an easy training ride. My first race back after injury came in August with the Isle of Man Team when we travelled to Ireland for the Suir Valley 3 Day. I managed to take third on a stage and secure eighth overall, so I was happy with my progress after everything. After that I raced a few more races with Team Wiggins and spent a while training in Girona before one last race in Hong Kong rounded off the 2017 season for me.”
With your speed on the track and your love for tough terrain and the cobbles in Belgium how would you describe yourself as a rider?
“I’d describe myself as quite a punchy rider. I consider myself quite big and heavy. I’m good at sprinting, I like fast flat racing the best but I don’t mind rough terrain or short punchy climbs… so perhaps you could say I’m a Belgium Classics kind of rider.”
You’ve raced on the British scene for a number of years, how well do you already know your team for the year ahead?
“I know Jacob Scott from racing with him as a junior, he used to come over to my house and we’d train together quite a lot. I was on the British Cycling Academy with Chis Latham and also spent two years at Team Wiggins with him. I’ve lead Chris out on a number of sprints so hopefully we’ll get a good chance to work together during our time together with ONE Pro. And I know Hayden McCormick, Tom Baylis and James Oram from my time training in Girona and through racing in the UK, so I don’t think I’m doing too badly. I look forward to getting to know everyone and working with the entire team, both staff and riders”
Finally, It’s a new year and a new team, what are you most looking forward to in 2018?
“I’m looking forward to working with ONE Pro Cycling and seeing how I fit in. It will be great to get racing again after such a long period off and I can’t wait to get stuck in. I would also like to be selected to represent the Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games in April. I’ve qualified to do it but I think they’re only sending 30 athletes, so we’ll find out on 20th December whether or not I’ve managed to secure a place. I went to Glasgow in 2014, so hopefully I make the team for a second time and get the opportunity to race on the Gold Coast in Australia.”
If you would like to follow Jake Kelly and his journey with the team you can join him on his official Instagram and twitter account. Or keep up to date with all the latest news from ONE Pro Cycling on twitter, instagram and our official facebook page.