Cycling: Kiwi James Fouche preparing for Mitchelton-Scott step-up

James Fouche takes out the NZ men's road race
James Fouche takes out the NZ men's road race. Photo credit: Photosport

Rising New Zealand cyclist James Fouche is "ready to go" for the biggest opportunity in his promising career. 

He's landed a 'stagaire' role with one of the sports' powerhouse teams - Mitchelton-Scott. 

It's essentially an internship, offered to talented riders who have spent time in the U23 ranks and gives them the chance to earn a full-time contract. 

"I think my manager thought it was the right time, so I was able to hook that up and I'm pretty excited," he told Newshub. 

Fouche's year started off with a bang, winning the U23 national time trial, before storming to victory in the men's road race. 

"I've had a fairly consistent year so far. I've always been up there in the results and I've been putting my name forward in classifications like the King of the Mountains."

The 21-year-old's sure the Kiwi make-up at Mitchelton-Scott played a part in the opportunity. Cycling great Julian Dean is a sport director, while Jack Bauer, Sam Bewley and Dion Smith ride on the men's team. 

"I know them quite well and I'm good mates with a few of them. I know they always look out for the younger New Zealand riders, so I'm grateful to them." 

Fouche will link up with them for a short stint in October. 

"It'll definitely be a good learning curve and what I need at the moment to make the next step up."

Fouche's enjoyed a productive season with British outfit Team Wiggins. He racked up three King of the Mountains wins in Turkey, Portugal and Belgium, as well as finishing sixth in the Nations Cup and 14th at Paris-Roubaix Espoirs. 

"I've definitely learnt how to get into a breakaway and read a race a lot better than last year.

"Last year, I was sort of going by how I felt and not really thinking about how other people were feeling during the race. 

"The accumulation of races I've done in the past two years has been really good and with Team Wiggins, I've been able to learn quite a bit."

Fouche's got a few races in Belgium at the end of August, before preparing for the Tour of Britain and world championships, both in September. Then, it's all about making a good impression at Mitchelton-Scott. 

"I wasn't 100 percent sure at the start of the year. I thought maybe I'd need one more year in the U23 ranks, but I think I've proven myself." 

Time is on his side as well. He still has another year in the development ranks, if needed, but the way he's going, that won't be required.