George Stainton-Ellis has been challenged to prove his quality and earn a professional deal.
The Waterlooville talent is one of a dozen riders who have signed up to Pedal Heaven’s Excel Academy for the 2016 season.
The carrot is dangled for them to make it to the Conti sideTim Elverson
The introduction of the development squad is a sign of the team’s determination to kick on after their promotion to UCI Continental level.
And for directeur sportif Tim Elverson, the incentive is there for all his academy prospects to earn a ride in the premier team.
He said: ‘This year one of the academy guys, at least, will get up.
‘And then hopefully the juniors who join the academy will know, if they perform well enough, they can get into the Conti side pretty quickly.
‘When I intend to pick new riders, if one or two of the academy lads are going as well as the next likely candidate, I will be picking them.
‘They all know that is how it will work and that is why they have put themselves in the academy.
‘Some of them could have got rides that gave them more products or gave them more stuff elsewhere.
‘But the carrot is dangled for them to make it to the Conti side. That is why they are in there and that is why they are doing it.
‘Hopefully they are getting the right advice at races, too. It is not all about how many jerseys you get.’
Stainton-Ellis, who rode for Portsmouth-based i-Team as a junior, is beginning his fourth year in the senior ranks.
He caught the eye last summer as he sprinted to glory in the amateur support race at the Tour Series event in Ryde on his way to earning promotion to category one status.
He followed that victory up with wins in Behind The Bikeshed’s Summer Series and Surrey League Road Race, while clearly impressing his new bosses when landing the finale of Pedal Heaven’s Eelmor Circuit Series.
Stainton-Ellis will start his second Perfs Pedal on Sunday. He finished 22nd, 4min 22sec adrift of champion Yanto Barker, in his debut last year.
And while many of the Excel Academy riders have benefited from training with the team’s UCI squad, Elverson insists they will not be able to lean on them for help on Sunday.
‘They have been riding with the UCI boys here and there,’ sad the directeur sportif.
‘And that is important because if one of them comes out of the academy to go into the Conti side, I want them to feel like they know how it works already.
‘The whole point is to create that overlap in training, so when someone does actually make that step up they are not in awe of anyone and can just get on with it.
‘But on Sunday, I be very specific about the fact I want them to be separate.
‘Anders Christensen will be their DS. I am keeping them completely separate from a race point of view.
‘I want them to learn, otherwise there is not point them being in the academy. And they also have to realise they are not in the Conti side. They have to fight to get that place.’