Eiser Hirumet’s George Jary Gets PEZ’d!
Rider Interview: The Dave Rayner Fund recently announced their supported riders for 2018 and young Londoner, George Jary, is one of the lucky recipients. With the Rayner funding, Jary can pack his suitcase and head back to Spain for another season. Ed Hood caught up with him on a rest day for a word or two.
We continue with our series on the hopes and aspirations of riders supported by The David Rayner Fund.
Today’s young man is 20 year-old Londoner, George Jary who’s down on the Iberian Peninsula where if you can’t climb then best forget about it.
PEZ: How long have you been on the Rayner Fund and how big a difference does it make?
George Jary: Since the beginning of the 2017 season. At Caja Rural the year before, all of my costs were covered but with Escribano I needed to support myself when not on races or team camps, so I applied for the fund. It made a huge difference to my year, allowing me to stay in Spain throughout the season even when the team didn’t have anything planned. This meant I could have permanent base in Navarra, somewhere familiar to come back to after a race, which makes a huge difference mentally and physically.
PEZ: How could you be a Herne Hill boy and not end up as a track man?
I always loved the track but I was just never fast enough. I used to struggle in the shorter, more explosive, races. I remember at track league each Wednesday night, thinking of the earlier races like the 10 lap scratch, win and out and devil as a warm up for the 20km race at the end of the night. Once I got to junior level I decided to focus more on the road, where as an U16 I’d been keen to race at the Newport and Manchester velodromes, I began only doing the local track races just to give me some speed for the road. Now I have begun to understand my physiology more I have learned I am naturally more suited to longer efforts. In saying that I do have a strong sprint, unusually so for an aerobically dominant rider, which I credit entirely to my time on the track. On a Friday night as a youth at Herne Hill, with the Velo Club Londres, we’d do drills like sprinting for the line on the whistle. These were good fun at the time and looking back they were important to my development.
PEZ: What were your UK results like?
Nothing special. As an under 14 and 16 I raced largely on the track, riding the regional omnium series and as much as I could at Herne Hill. Then when I got to junior level, as a first year I placed respectably in some of the national series races but as a second year I had a bit of a nightmare. I remember I broke my chain at the first of the national series, punctured in the next two and crashed in the fourth one I did! My plan as a second year Junior was to focus on the early season national series races then have a break for my A levels before targeting the Tour of Wales at the end of August. In the end I had such a disastrous first half to the year in the UK, when the opportunity to race in Spain, came I didn’t hesitate. The plan was to do a month in Spain then come back in time for the Tour of Wales.
When it became time to come back home I opted to finish the season in Spain.
PEZ: Why Spain and how Assessores de Navara at the end of season 2015?
I had raced in Spain as a junior and U16 while on holiday with my family, but never as part of a team. In 2015 a friend of mine put me in contact with the couple that run Assesores de Navarra, now called Team Fundacion Lintxu. Roberto and Vanessa welcomed me into the team for the junior Tour of Pamplona in June where I earned my place in the one day races in Navarra throughout July. After the Tour of Pamplona we had some great races as a team, I managed to win one and on three occasions I was in a breakaway with a teammate who I gave the victory to. Roberto and Vanessa then asked if I could stay for the rest of the season, so perhaps still slightly traumatized by my crashes and mechanicals in the UK that year, I decided to stay on. I haven’t raced in the UK since.
PEZ: Caja Rural – cool team, how did you get that ride and what was the experience like?
Caja Rural came up as an option for the 2016 season while I was with in Spain. An English rider racing with a small team in Navarra, winning on an old Dolan winter trainer was always going to cause a stir. Caja Rural also had contact with Assessores de Navarra (now Team Fundacion Lintxu). They signed one rider the year before and since signing me in 2015, they have taken on two more juniors in 2016 and 2017. I learned a lot during my time with Caja. As a first year U23 in a big team like theirs you are really put through it. You have to be on the front or off the front in every race and you have no say in your calendar. Caja Rural put an emphasis on bringing through well drilled riders, there is a proper way of doing everything.
You need to be able to get in a breakaway at the first time of asking, be ready to get on the front at a moment’s notice and never be seen badly positioned in the bunch. They make a point of showing you what is expected in a professional team. For all but one rider in the team per race, the result would be irrelevant. They would often remind us of riders who have come through their development system to become professionals without ever having won a race. It was about doing your job, very different to what I was used to in the juniors but I took to it well. I finished the year so well drilled on my jobs I could talk for hours on the art of the lead-out train or how to get in a breakaway. I even wrote a 1000 word blog entry on how to get bottles from the team car.
PEZ: Volta a Portugal do Futuro with them – that must have been an experience?
Yes, it certainly was. It was my first taste of international racing in a week where everything happened, from mechanicals to crosswinds to summit finishes in 40 degree heat, I loved it.
PEZ: Escribano in 2017, what was that like?
Good. At the end of the 2016 season the Caja Rural the team director made a few phone calls and got me a place with Escribano. It was one of the best funded teams in Spain and had gained entry to the Copa España in only their first year. I was one of the younger riders and my job was going to be to work for others, but I was up for it. I felt I was getting in on the ground floor of a big new project. Although the team didn’t get all the race invites it wanted, we still managed to finish top of the U23 national ranking and a teammate of mine Oscar Cabedo has since gone onto a Pro Continental team; Burgos BH. I feel I played a part in the team’s success and I was certainly valued for the work I did. They offered me another year but I realized I needed to move to a team where I could ride for myself. We ended the season on good terms.
PEZ: How has your acceptance been with the Spanish guys?
On the whole, very good. In my time in Spain I have been able to train and race with riders from all over and made some good friends. Racing 40-50 races a year you start getting to know people which gives the early season races a bit of a “back to school feeling” with everyone keen to catch up and pleased to see each other.
PEZ: What have been your best rides in Spain?
My best rides have come in the support of others. With Caja Rural I was a part of some good lead out trains for Jon Irisarri who now rides for the pro team and last year with Escribano I was often put on the front between climbs to keep the race from coming back together. I think my best ride came last season in the most important Copa España round, Valenciaga. I was on the front with a teammate for about half an hour between the two main climbs. I averaged 315w for four hours that day. In terms of results my best days were when I went to races without my team. When Escribano didn’t have a race planned this season I would get a lift with a friend to the Basque Country for the U23 races. Racing on my own meant I could just sit in and race for myself. It made bunch positioning harder and I had no support if I had a mechanical but I managed fourth and eighth in two of the five races I did.
PEZ: What’s the accommodation/cooking/washing/cleaning deal for 2018?
In 2018 I’ll be living in the Eiser Hirumet team flat with two other English lads; Ashley Dennis and Elliot Redfern. So accommodation is covered by the team, I guess we’ll work out cooking, washing and cleaning amongst ourselves.
PEZ: How have you spent the winter and when do you go back?
This winter I stayed in the Eiser Hirumet team flat in Durango, near Bilbao. I came home for Christmas and New Year but the rest of the time I have been here. For most if January I will be staying near Calpe because the weather gets really bad in Durango.
PEZ: Do you have an idea of your program?
Yes. I know what I’ll be doing for the first half of the season. I have planned to target the Basque U23 Lehendakari series where I had some success in 2017 and do the Copa Españas that don’t clash with those races. As well as these one-day races I have three stage races in my calendar in the Vuelta Bizkaia, Vuelta Bidasoa and the Vuelta Navarra. This takes me up to June where I’ll likely have a short race break, after that the team has some trips planned to France and Belgium.
PEZ: Eiser Hirumet – tell us about that squad and how you got the ride.
Eiser Hirumet is a team run by a club called Duranguesa based in Durango who also have a junior team and women’s professional team. The team saw me racing on my own in the Basque Country, got hold of my phone number from a friend and gave me a call. They said they could offer me freedom to race, choice of calendar and accommodation so it was perfect for me.
PEZ: How’s the lingo going?
Well, I learned a lot as a junior and got to Caja Rural in 2016 thinking I was fluent but I soon found out that was far from the case. Since then I have worked on my accent and grammar, I am confident that I understand everything now but I still need to improve my tenses to sound like a local.
PEZ: What’s your opinion on the state of Spanish Cycle Sport?
Improving. In my time in Spain there has always been one Pro Continental team in Caja Rural and one World Tour team in Movistar. I have often been told about times before the financial crash and doping scandals there were five or six Spanish pro teams with 25-30 riders each. I never thought it could get back to those levels but from this season two existing Continental teams Burgos BH and Murias Euskadi have gained Pro Continental status and two new Continental teams in Fundacion Euskadi and Polartec Kometa have emerged. This is thanks to increased investment from sponsors and the backing of Mikel Landa and Alberto Contador of Fundacion Euskadi and Polartec Kometa respectively. The increase in teams has improved investment all round, new U23 and U23/Elite stage races have been announced already for 2018 such as the Vuelta Bizkaia and the Vuelta Asturias. The one time professional stage race, the Vuelta Navarra, has continued in recent years as amateur event but now has added an extra day perhaps looking to become a UCI race once more. I could go on but you get the idea, more races more teams, it looks like things are on the up.
PEZ: Season 2018 is about. . .
Pushing on really. I went into it a bit on a recent blog post, cheesily titled “the next step” but I think that really sums it up. I have had two years of working for others and learning the ropes but now I need to take the next step by getting results for myself. If I want to become a professional I need to market myself to teams, my ability to survive races and work for the teammates needs to be taken as a given: it needs to be my results that set me apart.
This season I will be able to largely choose my calendar and expect freedom to race in U23 races should I prove myself as one of the stronger riders. In the past two years I can’t count more than five or six occasions I managed to get to the key point of the race without having had to work for others and yet I have managed three top 10s. So hopefully now I have a chance to target specific races and race for myself I can add to my palmarès.
# Thanks to George and photographers Oskar Maxin, Endika Oregi, Unai Demi, Martín Early and Esti Aginako. #
More info on the Dave Rayner Fund HERE.
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,600 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.