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Latest recruit to Team Wiggins sets sights on the WorldTour

Jamie Finch-Penninger
10 Jan 2019

New Team Wiggins-Le Col recruit is setting out to make sure the 2019 season is the one that will propel him into the WorldTour ranks

Australian youngster Sam Jenner is one of the newest recruits to British Contiental set-up Team Wiggins-Le Col, and showcased some form at the recent Australian Road Race National Championships. He took third in both the Under 23 road race and time trial, but the former champion of the U23 road race made it clear that he’s looking to further his ambitions by putting his best foot forward for his new team in Europe.

'I was pretty hungry to chase the gold [at the Nationals],' said Jenner. 'So I’ve tried pretty hard this week and a bit more has come out than I thought I had. I’m showing good signs and I’ve got a lot more out of my body before Europe.

'Obviously my real goals are over in Europe, so I’m not really in peak form at the moment.'

Coming from the inland regional city of Armidale, Jenner was somewhat of a surprise selection to the Australian WorldTour academy team as a fresh-faced first year U23 rider.

He quickly built a reputation for being the hardest worker and most dedicated trainer on the team.

The WorldTour academy team morphed into Mitchelton-BikeExchange, and Jenner stayed there for three seasons, much of which was spent helping one of the most talented generations in Australian cycling make their ascent to WorldTour level.

Lucas Hamilton, Robert Stannard (both Mitchelton-Scott), Jai Hindley and Michael Storer (both Team Sunweb) have all made the step up to the professional ranks, partially due to the assistance of Jenner’s domestique skills.

This season will be a different challenge for Jenner, one in which he’ll have to take a big win or two himself to ensure he attracts the attention of the top teams in the world in his last year of eligibility as an Under 23 rider.

'I haven’t got my race programme yet,' said Jenner. 'But obviously you’re not really one hundred per cent with your race programme until February anyway.

'I’ve got an idea of what I’m doing and the team has given me as much possibility to get a result and get to the professional ranks. It’s up to me to nail it.'

WorldTour teams traditionally prefer to take riders while they are still Under 23s, neo-professional contracts aren’t as expensive as signing a rider from a ProContinental team and the talent ceiling is perceived to be higher for younger riders.

'I had a few options but it wasn’t time for me to step up out of the Under 23 ranks yet. I don’t want to go half a stepping stone before the professional ranks. I just need another year.

'I’ve still got a lot of growing to do and a lot of development to be made.'

The move to Team Wiggins-Le Col came late in the season, but Jenner is a natural fit for the development squad that also includes newly-crowned New Zealand road race champion James Fouche along with British riders Mark Donovan, Tom Pidcock and Robert Scott.

'It was actually a pretty quick process,' said Jenner. 'I was without a team in September, a little bit late notice. I actually contacted Andrew McQuaid (general manager of Team Wiggins) and let him know the situation I was in and within two months they’ve really stepped up.

'I can’t thank them enough, they’ve been really generous and looked after me well and I haven’t even met them face to face yet. I’m already part of the family and I’m looking to get amongst it with them.'

The switch to Team Wiggins-Le Col might just be the change of scenery that the Girona-based Jenner needs, to break him out of the mentality of working nearly exclusively for others and be a little more focused on himself.

'It’s nearly a similar programme to what I’ve been in but it’s just a bit of a refresh. Different faces, different races, a different base. I needed to do it to make a progression in my career, I think it’s the best option.

'This year is really the year I have to do something and get my name out there,' Jenner concluded.