George Stainton-Ellis has spoken of his Pedal Heaven inspiration as he fights for a career in bike racing.
The Waterlooville rider earned a place on the UCI Continental team’s new Excel Academy squad back in November.
Since then the 21-year-old has been spurred on in training, which has included four weeks in Spain.
Stainton-Ellis has admitted the first few weeks working closely with professional bike riders proved a steep learning curve.
But his desire to catch the eye of directeur sportif Tim Elverson and earn promotion to the paid ranks has not diminished.
And it is that opportunity that made his decision to join the development squad a no-brainer.
The tough days were mentally and physically cracking. I had a few moments on top of mountains thinking what am I doing?George Stainton-Ellis
The former Oaklands School student said: ‘It is a pretty big opportunity and has really inspired me.
‘I was talking to a few other teams and could have got various different things from them.
‘But with Pedal Heaven there is a chance to ride for a UCI squad.
‘I had almost dismissed the other offers in the hope I would get this one.
‘It is all about the opportunity. To have Tim say if you perform, you can make it on to the Conti squad has definitely spurred me on.
‘I have really committed to the training – there is no shying away if it is a bit mucky outside. It has been a case of head down and get on with it.
‘I was in Malaga for four weeks. It was a great experience but it was definitely an eye-opener, in terms of the level the other lads were at.
‘It just showed me how much time and effort I need to put in.
‘I was aware it was going to be hard but when I was out there it definitely took its toll.
‘But I pushed through and each day hoped I was a bit stronger.
‘Getting to know the Conti lads and almost being accepted as one of the team in that way was great.
‘Seeing how they go about their work – on and off the bike – was excellent.
‘The tough days were mentally and physically cracking, though.
‘I had a few moments on top of mountains thinking what am I doing?
‘But you push on, get home and almost feel excitement that you have completed the ride.
‘Then there is an almost overwhelming feeling of having to do it all again tomorrow!’
Stainton-Ellis crashed in the season-opening Perfs Pedal on Sunday.
Brought down by a rival, he is now recovering from a fractured shoulder blade.
However, he has wasted no time in getting back on the saddle – returning to training less than 24 hours later.
And it is that work ethic he hopes he can convert into results, as he bids to prove Elverson was right in giving him a shot with Pedal Heaven.
Stainton-Ellis added: ‘The target for me it to try to get a couple of really good results and almost say look at me.
‘I work closely with Tim, who coaches me and almost mentors me really, so hopefully that will help my progression.’