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February 28, 2015 – Here’s a look at Ian Stannard, who on Saturday won his second consecutive Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and why the first British winner of that race is a remarkable rider.
By Daniel McMahon // Featured Image: Yuzuru Sunada
1. He competed in his first races on his mom’s bike. As he writes in his bio on his website: “From a young age my parents encouraged me to do all sports, and with dyslexia I definitely preferred the sports field to the classroom. I got into cycling through an interest in triathlons. Wanting to improve the cycling aspect I started riding more. I was hooked. My first races were around Milton Keynes Bowl on my mum’s city bike.”
2. After winning the 2014 Omloop, he had a wicked crash at Gent-Wevelgem but came back a year later to win the Omloop again.
After his accident last March, he said, “They are only bike races at the end of the day and there’ll be plenty more chances to ride them in the future.” Even with fractured vertebrae and a long time off the bike, he stayed optimistic and worked hard and came back and won. And he did it with panache.
3. Instead of sulking when he had to miss the Tour de France last year because of his injury, he went flying on a fighter jet instead — over the Tour itself. He said he was “gutted” to miss the big start of the world’s greatest race in his native England, but it didn’t get him down.
4. He’s a dedicated professional. As a domestique for riders like Chris Froome, Stannard spends a lot of his time working for others, and he’s committed to the job. When asked in 2013 which Tour de France stages he had picked out for himself, he said, “I’m here purely to support Froomey and to do my best to him, so if he does well I’m happy.”
Of course, when he does get to ride for the win, he doesn’t like to waste the opportunity, as his two semi-classic wins show.
5. He helps young kids get into the sport. Stannard “returned to the cycling club where he took his first steps into cycling,” according to a video he did for Shimano in 2013. “Ian rode with children to inspire, train and share his experiences with them. His most important message: Believe! And you are able to achieve more than you have ever imagined.”
The kids called him a hero, but Stannard said he doesn’t see himself as one: “I just enjoy riding my bike.” You can watch the video below: