Team News: Joe Reilly (Vitus Pro Cycling)

Joining Vitus Pro Cycling in 2018 is a rider, Joe Reilly, who has recovered from smashing a knee cap to winning at senior level in 2017. Joe has a valuable coach in Ian Bibby ahead of his first foray into racing at the highest level and we had a chat about his goals

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Team News: Joe Reilly (Vitus Pro Cycling)

For a Junior, Joe’s results in 2017 are very encouraging for some one so young and a good sign as he moves into the senior ranks with Vitus Pro Cycling in 2018. A win in a well known race in Scotland, Tour of Lammemuirs, along with top 10s in National B events and sixth in the Junior national series event, the CiCLE Classic, Joe is already in the mix at the front of senior races.

A late starter racing his bike, Joe hasn’t been racing that long after getting into the sport halfway through his second year in the Under 16 ranks. “I’ve been playing catch up with a lot of things like positioning, training etc but it’s been a fantastic learning curve and to finish each race having learned something new, it just gives you so much motivation as the path to be a better rider is clear.”

Asked what his reaction was when Cherie asked him to join the team in 2018, Joe says “when Cherie pulled the contract out and put it on the table, I tried to play it so cool at the time, but inside there may have been a little squeak of excitement. It’s such a rare opportunity and I can’t wait to grab it with both hands. It’s every juniors dream to go straight to a UCI set up, and it’s something you strive after all year. But for it to actually happen, I just feel very fortunate.
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Having raced senior events, National Bs in 2017 among others, we asked Joe if he was nervous about the step up to the senior ranks? “I always thought it was important to be racing senior events when I was at junior level. You’re just a small fish in a big pond and learn so much more, not to mention suffer more!”

“This past year, I had Ian Bibby coaching me. He was brilliant and sent me all the resources he received this past year, was always there to bounce questions off and could tell me how it really is. Having someone at the top end of the sport on your side, is really an advantage I felt. I feel as though I know as much as I could know at this moment having spoken to so many people combined with going into the races with an open mind. It’s going to be one heck of a ride.”

A key thing for anyone joining a team like Vitus Pro Cycling is knowing the importance of team work. It is something Joe is aware of having done that in his junior years. “Being part of a team is brilliant” he says. “The banter and camaraderie is second to none. With a great range of riders for 2018, there will be something to learn from each guy which you just don’t get anywhere else”.

When asked, prior to signing for the team, what his goals were, Joe explains “in Autumn 2016, I had a major crash whilst racing in Germany. I’ll spare the gory details but a rider’s chain-ring went into my knee, through my kneecap – splitting it into two – tendons and ligaments.”

“I needed emergency surgery to get everything sewn back together. The surgeon said I wouldn’t be able to ride for six months and would need to re learn to walk. So to be racing National B’s in seven months was massive. Every month, I was getting five per cent better for power. I’m still improving massively now at the same rate. So for 2017, my goals were simply about getting fitter and better and be in a position to finish races having lost the use of my left leg effectively.”

Although still an improving rider, and young enough to still be learning about himself and his strengths, when asked what he felt were his key assets as a rider, Joe says “Good question – the past two years, I’ve seemed to perform well in races when tactics go out the window and it’s just about head and legs. I can do a bit of everything really. I guess being so young, I’m still learning about my capabilities, but with Cherie’s team, I know there is no one else better to help me develop and find those specialities”.
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Looking back at his past season, 2017, and some tough races, Joe told us that racing for Spokes Racing Team meant he was able to do the best junior races across UK and Europe. “The UCI races were hard in that they’re so fast, but if I’m honest, any Scottish National B, the way they’re raced is just beyond grippy. At Tour of the Lammenmuirs, I was setting new power records all day in the break and managed to take the win. Cliche as it is, it would have to be that”.

Like the team’s Grant Martin, Joe is from Scotland, so winter training can be a challenge but for Joe, there were other obstacles. “I had an operation planned to remove the metal framework on my knee as it was giving me issues all year – like knocking it out of place 20 minutes before a Junior Tour of Wales stage start. The only way to get it done this year was to have the surgery in the middle of November. So I raced right to the end of October to try and keep some form as my winter training would only start in the middle of December.”

“Six weeks in, I’m already at the level I was at mid season last year so the training is going really well. I went out to Tenereife for a few weeks both in December and January to get some sun and avoid all the snow and ice in Scotland!

And, how well does his know his Scottish Vitus Pro Cycling teammate Grant who was a first year senior in 2017? “I’ve known Grant since 2015. He’s a great mate and we often meet to go riding. I was with him in Tenereife and we were always chatting about the team and his past experiences from the team in 2017. To see his progression and the experiences he got this year, makes me really excited for the coming season.”

Finally, when asked what his goals are for 2018 with Vitus Pro Cycling, Joe says “still being on the recovery trail, without sounding too dull, it will just be to progress. I’m really looking forward to working for team leaders. I had a chance to help my team mate take several UCI wins this year and to know you’re part of that victory, is exhilarating”.

Thanks Joe and good luck with the team for 2018…



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