Stannard's 2017 for the team was a standout, winning the third stage of the Rhone-Alpes Isere Tour, finishing third in the youth classification of the baby Giro (and eighth overall), and finishing a respectable 44th in the under 23 World Championships road race in Bergen, Norway.
The all-rounder spent the rest of that season supporting his former team mates and now WorldTour riders Lucas Hamilton and Jai Hindley. The Sydney-born but New Zealand raised rider kicked off 2017 with a second place in the Under 23 Australian national time trial, riding for Mobius (now Mobius Bridge Lane) who he spent 2016 with in the National Road Series (NRS).
These performances did not go unnoticed.
“Robert is being rated as good as we’ve seen coming out of the Australian development program,” sport director Matt White said. “He is very, very versatile. He can do everything, sprint, time-trial and climb.”
“The reason why he is not in the professional team now, he is too young. However just like with Rob Power and Caleb Ewan we have identified that he is a super talent and we want to have the first crack with him as a professional when the time is right.”
— Mitchelton-BikeExchange (@GreenEDGEconti) February 8, 2018
But the youngster is keen to continue proving his mettle now rather than wait for 2019.
“I really enjoyed last season with Mitchelton-Scott,” said Stannard. “And I am really looking forward to working with the team again in 2018. Last year the opportunities I’ve was given were second to none and I have already surpassed my expectations of what I hoped to achieve as a first year U23.”
“This year I want to build on my success of the last season and continue my development in order to be ready for the WorldTour in 2019.
“Mitchelton-Scott has proven very successful in helping to develop younger riders in the past and to have the chance to be part of that development and learn from the experienced riders and managers they have is an awesome opportunity.
“I feel that for a young Australian cyclist there is no better pathway, it’s the perfect environment to become a professional cyclist.”
Earlier this season, Stannard finished third overall at the New Zealand Cycle Classic, ninth at the Gravel and Tar one-day race and is currently riding in the Dubai Tour.