Bournemouth-based cyclist Jamie Whitcher says he is ready to make the step up in his cycling career, following the announcement of his transfer to Basso Team Flanders for the 2023 season.
Whitcher found himself another Belgian-based outfit to race for this season, after five years of junior racing at Cannibal Team.
The 18-year-old is keen to put an unfortunate previous season of racing behind him and is up for the challenge of the higher standard of competition this year.
After starting well in national races during March, the British rider struggled in the middle of 2022, with crashes, injuries and undiagnosed glandular fever halting his progress and results.
Whitcher said: “The year has changed my mentality of the sport a lot and I have become more patient with it.”
Whitcher took up cycling aged nine after trying many other sports and was picked up by the Belgian Cannibal Team when he impressed at a race in Assen as a 13-year-old.
From then, the team nurtured him and, along with many local institutions like Bournemouth Cycleworks, the Dorset Community Fund and Pedal Potential, eased the high costs of racing abroad.
Whitcher is grateful for that support, saying: “There are a lot of people out there that helped me, so I can’t complain at all. I’m in a position where it is just about manageable to keep going so it’s quite nice to have a lot of people backing you all the time.”
Entering 2022, Whitcher focused his season around September’s World Championships Time Trial in Wollongong, Australia, but had to bypass that to recover from glandular fever, which bothered him since April.
After impressing in the early races of 2022, Whitcher was hit by a car the week before April’s Paris-Roubaix Juniors, one of the most prestigious races on his calendar.
Whitcher crashed from a winning position in the Basque Country later that month and was severely injured after another incident during July’s Valromey Juniors, which he described as the lowest point of his season.
The final race of Whitcher’s season came in August at Boucles de l’Oise, where he appeared for VC Londres.
Though he admits he wasn’t at his best, he came away with second place across the three days and was also second in the Points Classification.
For 2023, Whitcher progresses from Junior racing to Under-23 racing and moves on from the Cannibal Team which he says was vital in his progression.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better team and a better group of people to race with.
“As a team, we were basically family. 90 percent of the team have been there since we were 13 so we’ve been racing on the same team for five years. It doesn’t feel any different to being at home.”
Mark Williams is the Chief Executive of Pedal Potential, a Community Interest Company helping to fund Whitcher.
Williams said: “He has the potential to achieve a lot, he knows that we will support him.”