Liam White will find himself rubbing shoulders with three-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome early in the new year if his plans come to fruition.
The Ballarat 22-year-old is aiming at making his debut in Australia’s time-honoured cycling stage road race, the Herald Sun Tour, in which Froome will defend his title.
White revealed this as a major goal for 2017 after being named in the new UCI professional continental team, Drapac Pat’s Veg.
The 10-strong outfit is comprised exclusively of tertiary students, with White is studying exercise and sports science at Federation University.
White said team owner Michael Drapac was a firm believer in the importance of athletic achievement and personal development.
“He believes it is vital that developing cyclists also reach their potential off the bike.
“The Drapac Pat’s Veg program encourages and supports riders to do just that.”
White said it was a great philosophy – being able to ride as a professional while still setting himself for life after cycling. “It provides a strong life balance.”
The new team will act as a development program for WorldTour team Cannondale-Drapac.
White said it was a massive thrill after working his way from junior to senior ranks without having ever been part of any formal development programs.
The Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club’s new road champion laid the foundation for selection with the Pat’s Veg team at National Road Series level. Five of the 10 riders in the new team followed the same pathway.
White, who is coached by now retired Ballarat professional rider Pat Shaw, will get together with his new teammates for the first time as a unit for a training camp at Bright from December 27.
He will go from there to the Cycling Australia Road National Championships, where he will ride in the elite road race at Buninyong for the first time – moving up from the under-23 division.
White said as well as form, selection for the Herald Sun Tour on February 1-5 would depend on who was best suited to the event’s terrain.
The new team will also spend up to two months in Belgium mid-year.
He said while the team was eligible to contest tours in south-east Asia, he was unsure whether any would be part of their program.