Sports

Jake Snapped Up By French Team

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Jake Snapped Up By French Team thumbnailJake Gray

CYCLING star Jake Gray has been signed by a top French team.

The teenager, who lives between Dungannon and Cookstown, has joined the leading amateur club VC Toucy.

Based in Troyes, the group is recognised as one of the top feeder clubs to teams in the professional ranks.

Eighteen-year-old former Royal School pupil Jake has caught the eye of a number of major continental teams, and will join up with his new team at the start of February.

And while, acknowledging the work required to make the transition next year, Jake is looking forward to getting started on this new chapter in his cycling career.

Speaking to the Courier, Jake said: "2017 will be a step up and it'll be something new to me and it'll take a while to get used to the level of racing in France, but hopefully I'll get a few good results.

"VC Toucy are the highest level of amateur team you can go for and they have access to a lot of professional events.

"I was offered a professional contract this year with a Belgian team, but I didn't take it because I thought it would be too much of a step for my first year in proper senior races.

"The team I've joined has the aim of developing you on to professional teams. They have a lot of contacts with teams on the World Tour and I thought I'd take it step by step."

In the autumn, Jake took part in the World Junior Championships, and came very close to posting an impressive finish.

But it was not to be.

With 400 metres to go in the 135km race, Jake got caught in a mass collision of cyclists just ahead of him, scuppering his chances.

"I was right up there with the front bunch coming up to the finish, but with 400 metres to go there was a massive crash right in front of me and I had nowhere to go."

However, his performance up to that point had offered a great deal of comfort.

And Jake will test himself in a professional race for the first time in February, when he travels to Morocco for six races in a two week period.

He has high hopes for next year and beyond, with a target of competing in the U23 European Championships in 2017, before setting his sights on the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and the Olympics in 2020.

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