A new initiative from Shimano called Believe! sees some of today’s leading young riders returning to the cycling clubs where they started their journey to the pinnacle of the sport, with the hope of inspiring a new generation to follow them.
The initiative from the Japanese components giant follows a lot of talk in recent months about how young pros represent a break with cycling’s doping past, giving hope for a cleaner future for the sport, something that underpins the campaign.
Among the riders featured are Team Sky’s Ian Stannard, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Salvatore Puccio, plus Blanco Pro Cycling’s Bauke Mollema, Arnaud Démare of FDJ and Argos-Shimano’s John Degenkolb.
Shimano says that its aim is “to reunite cycling and fans again” and invites fans who share its vision for the future of cycling to share their thoughts on its Facebook page.
“Young professional riders play a central role in Shimano’s initiative” it adds.“They return to the cycling club where they made their first steps into cycling. They ride with children to inspire, train and share their experiences with them. Their most important message: Believe! And you are able to achieve more than you have ever imagined.”
A behind the scenes video shows Blanco’s Mollema returning to his former club in Groningen.
Mollema, winner of the points classification in the 2011 Vuelta – surprisingly, the first Dutch rider to win a jersey of any description at a Grand Tour since 1992 – said: “When I was a child I looked up to the best riders, most of all in the Tour de France.
“At that time I was dreaming to ride and perform in the Tour myself. I absolutely believe in a clean sport.
“When I look around, seeing all those children, they are the future! It would be fantastic if one of these children would also make it to become a professional rider”
Degenkolb, the German sprinter who won five stages in last year’s Vuelta, added: “Looking to these children I don’t feel like a hero.
“When I was young it was my dream to become a professional rider. I have been a pro rider for three years now and I hope to be an example for these children.
“I believe in the future of cycling. In the past people made mistakes, but if we work hard and make the right decisions, in the future the sport will be clean again.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.