[‘Infectious positivity’ helped Jack Rootkin-Gray earn his first WorldTour ride with EF Education-EasyPost
Jack Rootkin-Gray has heaped praise on the team ethos and culture at Saint Piran and has said that it helped him earn a WorldTour move for next year.
American WorldTour giants EF Education-EasyPost recently announced that they had completed the signing of Rootkin-Gray meaning that the 20-year-old Brit will make his debut at cycling’s highest level in 2024.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly, Rootkin-Gray said the initial interest from EF arose at the start of the year after he won the Ringerike GP in Norway. A deal was then struck and signed off just before the recent World Championships in Glasgow.
Rootkin-Gray said: “There was some interest after I won the first UCI of the year in Norway, and then I did some physical testing with them [EF Education-EasyPost]. I then won another race and the move was all sorted pretty quickly just before the Worlds.
“I don’t really know how much interest there was [from other teams]. That was the team that me and my agent thought would suit me the best. That was my number one choice so I went with that one as soon as I was offered the chance to.
“I think they’ve got a really quite refreshing attitude. Obviously, I think your priority is to be happy over anything really, I think that’s the main precursor for performance. I’d quite like to have a bit of input into what I do and why we do things, rather than just being told. I quite like to maybe have a bit more input myself and that’s something that they support. So that was a big attraction to me.”
Some under 23 riders may have sat back in the U23 road race in Glasgow, safe in the knowledge that a WorldTour deal was in the bag for the following season. Rootkin-Gray doesn’t fit into that category and rode his way to fourth place, narrowly missing out on a World Championships medal.
He told Cycling Weekly that the confidence instilled within him by Richard Pascoe, Steve Lampier and other staff at Saint Piran – his current team- helped him ride to fourth in Scotland.
“The culture within the team is really the thing that is the best about it by far,” he said. “Ricci [Pascoe] genuinely cares for all his riders, Steve [Lampier] is as excited about the race and the plan each day as much as you are, and all the staff just want the best for everyone like a family.
“I think that’s the thing I’ll take with me the most [to EF Education-EasyPost] how to create an environment with infectious positivity where everyone wants the best for one another. It’s really quite a force when you manage to start that.”
“I think racing the way we’ve always raced at Saint Piran means you’re confident and don’t hold back,” he explained. “We always will go on the front foot and I think from whenever the first lap around that circuit was in Glasgow I was like ‘I want to be in the first break’ and I had no kind of concerns about doing that. So it does give you confidence to maybe go with a bit more of an ambitious plan.
“After the Worlds I just never really found my groove again. I just struggled with some illness and stuff. The Tour of Britain was really good fun racing the way we did. At the end of the week, I didn’t really have the legs I hoped to have. But I’m really quite satisfied with the season. There’s lots to be happy with.”
Saint Piran have racked up an impressive set of results at domestic level this season which has included victories at the Lincoln GP, Lancaster GP and Beaumont Trophy. Zeb Kyffin also finished 6th overall at the recent Tour of Britain for the Cornwall-based team.
Alex Richardson took his second victory at Lincoln in May. Rootkin-Gray said that being part of the same setup as the 33-year-old former Alpecin-Deceuninck rider has provided valuable lessons for him to take to the WorldTour.
He said: “I think with Alex [Richardson], all of his knowledge and experience aside, the best thing I’ve learnt from him is how to create that positive environment for the group you’re in to benefit everyone. He’s definitely taught me a lot about being a leader.”
Looking ahead, Rootkin-Gray said that his main goals and objectives for his debut season with EF Education-EasyPost were straightforward.
“It’s just to be motivated, to be part of the group and build a network within the team and ultimately to always race for the win because I love winning.”