Cycling: The Kiwi connection at Jumbo-Visma

While George Bennett’s established himself as one of the best cyclists in the world, currently riding his tenth Grand Tour, another Nelsonian twelve years his junior is trying to follow in his wheels. 

Finn Fisher-Black is swapping his rainbow stripes as a junior track world champion, for the yellow and black of Jumbo-Visma on the road. 

The burgeoning cycling powerhouse has 39 pro victories this year, including four at the Tour de France. 

And the 17-year-old's signed a two year deal with their feeder team. 

"When the coach picked me up in his team car, I was like oh man, is this happening," he laughed. 

Fisher-Black was put on their radar by the country's top cyclist, George Bennett, who rides in the senior team. 

"I was training with Finn back in Nelson and I know he’s a big talent so I told the team to keep an eye on him, and sign him up for the youth team," Bennett told Newshub. 

Then he smashed the world record [Under 19 Individual Pursuit] and within a day or two it was pretty much done,"

"George had a word in there, these opportunities don’t just fall in your lap like that," added Fisher-Black. 

Bennett believes Jumbo-Visma is the perfect environment for Fisher-Black to grow. 

"He won’t be there [in the senior team] next year, but I think it won’t take long for him to step up to the pro team."

Bennett and Fisher-Black go way back, cycling together in the sunshine capital over the last few years. 

"He comes back in the summer and I’d come to club races and try and match up with George.

"I’m friends with him when he comes back to Nelson, we do a few rides, so it was good to see him over there in Europe as well."

Bennett’s excited to have another Kiwi join him at the leading Dutch team. 

"He’s a guy I’ve known since I was ten or something.

"I already caught up with him in Amsterdam and the team’s looking after him really well.

"He’s already been on the track doing all the testing, he’s in a good program, and he’s been doing really well in the races over here.”

Fisher-Black impressed over in Europe in a stint with WWV Junioren. 

"The big goal was to get a stage win and I came away with the stage and the overall lead in the British Tour – the Kingdom Classic.

"There were a few close second places as well which I took a lot of learning from, but they were a hard pill to swallow."

Fisher-Black is heading offshore in February with Jumbo-Visma, taking part in as many Under-23 races as he can. 

"There's a lot of talented Dutchies in there, so I’ve got to prove myself against them as well. 

"It’s a pretty hard sport to make it in so that’s the goal, but I’ve got a long way to go still."

That transition will be made easier by the vast and beneficial facilities at Jumbo-Visma. 

"I went over this month to meet them and see what the deal is over there and it’s pretty impressive.

"We went to the service course the second day I was there and there’s just Bianchi bikes all over the walls, it was a bit of a shock at first."

While he was all set to defend his junior team pursuit title at the World Champs next month, an untimely broken wrist has ruled him out. 

He hasn’t had to deal with too many challenges in his career so far – one of the biggest has been off the bike, as the only Kiwi in the development team.  

"I'd go into this hotel room with the Dutchies and we’d just speak like three words."

While his grasp of the language isn’t there just yet, he’s happy to let his skills on the bike do the talking for the time being.