Stagiaire is French for intern. Like many prospective employers, the best way to judge if an employee is suitable to join the firm is to watch them in the workplace for a period of time, as opposed to an interview or a read of the CV. Cycling’s no different and now’s the time of year when new recruits get tested in the pro ranks.
For me the two most exciting prospects are Team Radioshack’s Taylor Phinney and Cervélo Test Team’s Daniel Teklehaimanot.
Phinney screams raw talent, he’s set world records in the velodrome, he’s won the U-23 Paris Roubaix and took four out of seven stages in the Olympia Tour. He has plenty more successes to his name to the point where he’s hard to categorise as a rider, will he become Mark Cavendish’s nightmare or will he graduate into a stage race contender? Either way there’s no word in the English language to describe him, you need the German Wunderkind or the Italian fuoriclasse.
My only regret is that he’s done all this under the guidance of Axel Merckx and now he’s going to be under the influence of Johnan Bruyneel. I’m just a cynical sort and always struggle to like riders who ride for Bruyneel. Even nice guys like Geoffroy Lequatre, I see them in RadioShack kit and get wistful. But that’s my problem, not yours.
One kit that I do like though is the Cervélo Test Team. Some of the nicest bikes in the peloton and the clothing is understated and simple. There’s something refreshingly old-school about a bike manufacturer backing a team. Anyway, this is where Daniel Teklehaimanot is going. He’s from Eritrea, a fascinating country in Africa on the Red Sea. It was once an Italian colony and Italian settlers organised the Giro dell’Eritrea in 1946 and the race was resumed in 2001, providing a foundation for the culture of cyclesport that seems to have brought Teklehaimanot to Europe. Indeed Teklehaimanot won his home tour last year.
Blowing my own trumpet for a moment, I did twitter and then write that Teklehaimanot was bound for Cervélo before anyone else got the news. I wrote “his story alone is worth a lot of publicity to any team” and got an email from a reader pointing out that the Eritrean market for Cervélo bikes was probably quite small!
That misses the point, Teklehaimanot is probably going to be the most recognisable rider in the bunch. Yes, for obvious reasons because of skin tone but also because he’s very tall. He’s got solid results, for example he was sixth in the Tour de l’Avenir last year so he can let his legs do the talking but since I’m already interested in this guy, I suspect he’ll get more publicity along the way than fellow Cervélo stagiare Alexander Wetterhall, to whom I wish the best of luck as well.
- Pronunciation guide: apparently it’s Teckle-haim-anot, or teckle-hame-an-ott. I seem to have picked up several Eritrean readers in recent days, welcome to you all. If you’d like to tell an English speaker how to pronounce it properly, please get in touch!