The world of professional cycling is a thrilling rollercoaster ride filled with ups and downs, triumphs and setbacks. Reflecting on my experiences during the 2022 season, I couldn’t help but feel a surge of excitement for the challenges that awaited me in 2023. My ultimate goal was stepping up to the UCI Continental Level, and I was determined to make it a reality. Little did I know that the path ahead would be far from smooth.
A Promising Opportunity: After a successful 2022 season, where I celebrated five podium finishes, I began my quest to find a team that would propel me to the next level. It was during the closing stages of the season that I engaged in conversations with several teams. An intriguing offer came my way in October: a chance to sign with a new team, Benediction Kitei Pro 2020. This team presented a unique opportunity, primarily based in Belgium, participating in various UCI 1.2 and 1.1 races across Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. What made this team even more distinctive was its Rwandan registration, with half of the team hailing from Rwanda.
Preparation and Uncertainties: With the prospect of racing alongside professionals and competing in bigger races, I eagerly began my winter training in November. I dedicated myself to rigorous training while balancing my time working in my father’s business back home in the Isle of Man. As the months progressed, I made significant strides in my preparations, gearing up for what was meant to be my inaugural race in late February. However, an unsettling revelation awaited me during the team’s presentation in late January—the team was struggling to secure its UCI license. This news left me disheartened and uncertain about my future.
Facing Setbacks: The uncertainty surrounding the team’s UCI license dragged on, and it wasn’t until the 3rd of April that I received the news I had feared—the team’s license had been denied, and the team was forced to fold. Suddenly, I was in limbo, unsure of my next step in this unpredictable journey.
Taking Matters into My Own Hands: Determined to salvage the racing season, I made a pivotal decision in late March. I travelled to Belgium intending to participate in races independently. Though the season had already begun a month earlier, I refused to let the setback keep me from pursuing my dreams. Thankfully, Bikestyle stepped in, offering their assistance by providing a cycling kit and essentials to support my racing endeavours. The first weekend of racing proved fruitful as I secured two top 20 finishes in Zutendal and Meer Kermesses, followed by an exhilarating 2nd place finish at Hakendover—rekindling my spirits and reminding me of the joy of standing on the podium.
Choosing the Right Path: After realising that the team I had initially joined was no longer an option, various Belgian club teams approached me with offers for the remainder of the season. Carefully considering my alternatives, I returned to the Urbano-Vulsteke Cycling Team, where I had spent the previous seasons honing my skills. I firmly believe this choice will provide me with the best opportunity for growth, paving the way for a potential step up the following year—an aspiration that remains close to my heart.
Throughout my journey, I have been incredibly fortunate to have a network of support that has bolstered my ambitions. I extend my deepest gratitude to Sharon, Julian, and everyone at Thornton Chartered Financial Planners for their unwavering support and belief in me.
Follow Adam on Instagram @adamjkelly00