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Talking cycling with James Whelan, EF Education First

Talking cycling with James Whelan, EF Education First

Impressive natural athleticism allowed James Whelan to fast-track his way into the pro peloton. He explains his background and tells the story of his first race in the EF Education First colours…


“I’m pretty fortunate to be in the position I am,” says James Whelan early in another long interview with RIDE Media. “There’s a lot of riders who are perhaps as talented as I am, but I’ve just managed to be able to go through the system really cleanly.”

James who? James Whelan. Remember the name. If you were on the road leading to Uraidla in stage four of the 2019 Tour Down Under, chances are you saw him speeding along in an escape group, which later became just two men racing ahead of the peloton.

Whelan was enacting a team plan that day. He was to attack early, stay up front and then wait for reinforcements from his EF Education First team. Both elements of that strategy played out perfectly: he made the move, had the energy to continue attacking while others faded, and he was soon joined by Alberto Bettisol.

Together the young Australian and his Italian team-mate swapped turns, forcing other teams to take up the chase. If all had gone exactly to the script, Michael Woods would have darted ahead on final hill and won the stage… that bit didn’t happen but we saw enough of Whelan to understand that he can follow orders, race his bike with panache, and seem like a veteran of the pro scene.

He’s not. He’s a neo pro. Two years ago, he was managing a Mexican restaurant in Melbourne.


– Click the link below to watch RIDE Media’s interview with James Whelan. –

Photo: Zac Williams

Expect to hear a lot more about James Whelan in the coming years. He may be new to cycling but he’s got a lot to offer.

In 2018 he was the under-23 Australian road race champion who would go on to win the under-23 edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, his first race on cobbled roads.

He is a climber who can ride the celebrated pavé of the Classics. He is a runner who decided to race his bike instead. He is a thinker and, although quiet and relatively subdued when he speaks, he is also articulate and interesting to listen to.


I hope you enjoy this instalment of the ever-growing ‘Talking Cycling’ series of interviews.



– By Rob Arnold


  • Sweet salute from Raphael Freienstein at the Tour of Brisbane. Ah, Is that a bell?
#NRS #cycling @inform_tminsight_make
  • Hey guys. Stuey here! I’m back on the @ridecyclingmedia IG following an action packed, Classics mad week with @mummucycling . From Flanders, we hit the Ardennes to tackle the trio of Classics there, finishing off superbly by riding the @amstelgoldrace finale today. A treat to have smooth roads and sunshine on our backs, following a cobble-crazy week.
We also had the pleasure of catching up with this legend ☝️ @eddymerckx525 which was an honour for us all and a very cool experience for our guests. 👑🙌🏻
The fun and games continue this weekend as we head to my favourite...the Queen of the Classics @parisroubaixcourse for a bit of fun in hell 😜.
Tomorrow our crew will tackle the Paris-Roubaix challenge which will be an awesome opportunity to ride some of the races famous sectors and see just how brutal the pavé can be. We’ll then be kicking back Sunday to enjoy all the action and conclude our trip on a high. It’s been real and can’t wait to round it off with the big one this weekend!
I’ll be sharing our progress and some live action on the IG story here, so be sure to tune in!
  • Rubbing shoulders with the locals. Always amusing. @rondevanvlaanderenofficial

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