In Howrah, a suburb of Hobart, Campbell Flakemore is enjoying the last few moments of his off-season. The 22 year old has been talked about as a genuine star of the peloton for several years now, not necessarily by the media rather it’s his peers who sing his praise.
7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:34 PM

Riders like Caleb Ewan reference him often, for the Tasmanian has been a presence in the national team while the sprinter has been building his reputation.

It's with thanks to the efforts of team-mates like Flakemore that the determined and diminutive sprinter from the Southern Highlands of NSW is now a fully fledged pro with Orica-GreenEDGE.

But Flakemore is another graduate from the national under-23 team to the WorldTour for 2015 - off to BMC Racing.

"I didn't really have that many results this year until August when I won the prologue of the Tour de l'Avenir," he told me when discussing how the deal with the American team came about. "After that my manager started talking to a few teams."

Things would progress rapidly from there. There was still a race to win: the world championships beckoned but Flakemore was nutting out some business beforehand and he wanted to get that out of the way so he could focus on his time trial and road race duties in Ponferrada.

On the Saturday before his winning ride against the clock Flakemore heard from his manager, Andrew McQuaid.

"He rang me up and said that BMC had a contract for me. And I just said, 'Yep, I'll take that.'"

His future was secured: two years in the WorldTour, thanks very much.
One Australian from the team is due to end his career with the red-and-black team at the same time another is starting.

It was on Mount Wellington near Hobart, during his formative years as a road racer, that Cadel Evans began to establish his reputation. That boy could climb. He was still a teenager but already the AIS could see his qualities. The same applies to Flakemore. And it's just a coincidence that Mount Wellington is where he honed his fitness and ultimately became a champion.

At the age of 17, he was picked as an athlete with potential in a national talent ID program.

"I went just pretty much straight to the bike tests," Flakemore explained about a serendipitous sequence while studying at The Friends School in late-2009. "I did a four-minute max power and a few sprints. And I got into it just through that."

Welcome to cycling young man. It's time to race!

He'd never really considered it until then but now Flakemore is raring to go.

"I didn't even think it would lead to being professional one day," he says of that original NTID visit but he would quickly rise through the ranks and find himself with an offer he couldn't refuse.

First up, some under 19 races around the country. Then the Tour of Tassie near home… and that was enough to expose his talents to Andrew Christie-Johnston, the manager of the ubiquitous team from the National Road Series – Genesys Wealth Advisers (from 2011), to what is now known as the Avanti Racing team. An offer was made to Flakemore – and they've kept on coming.

"I guess when I signed with Andrew, that sort of became what I wanted to do," he says about how the idea of becoming a professional cyclist emerged. "I hadn't been to uni yet so I've just been riding and focusing towards getting a pro contract."

He's excited but realistic about what's in store for him in his neo-pro year. "It's worked out so far but it's only going to get harder from here really."

While it's Ewan who soaks up the pressure of expectation from Australian cycling fans, others have also been performing well on the international stage and the next generation of stars is emerging from the AIS program that Flakemore has been part of for the past two seasons.

There's Ewan for the sprints. Rob Power in the mountains and Flakemore doing the chrono work. He's handy as a worker and formidable in the time trial, that's why there's a rainbow jersey and a gold medal as part of his collection of prizes.

He's had his doubts. A few months without results can do that to a young rider but ultimately Flakemore believes he's doing the right thing by pursuing a cycling career.

"I was just struggling a lot," he says of a few rotten months in Europe earlier this year when he started to question himself.

"Those sort of thoughts were going through my mind a fair bit. 'I can't compete with these guys, and I'm just suffering, and I'm getting beaten, and I'm away from home, and it's too hard…' all those thoughts go through your mind but it's like anything really, it just takes one or two good things and then you're back.

"Then I was lucky with l'Avenir and worlds. And I think I made the right decision, that's for sure."

Read the full Campbell Flakemore interview at Ride Cycling Review.