The Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team along with Axeon alumnus Tao Geoghegan Hart are excited to announce that Red Walters has been selected to stagiaire with the team for the rest of the 2021 season.
“I am very excited to have Red join our team,” said owner and director Axel Merckx. “It’s a wonderful initiative from Tao and I hope to be able to help Red with the next step of his career.”
Back in June, Tao expressed his desire and willingness to sponsor a rider in hopes of advancing cultural and racial diversity within the sport. When Red first saw the announcement from Tao about the position, he was really impressed.
“It's well known that cycling is hugely lacking in diversity, and while we are slowly making progress at the grassroots level, it hasn't seemed to me like there was a lot of acknowledgement from the higher levels in the sport,” said Red. “So to go out there and actually make that commitment and take action is really commendable in my opinion. Then from my personal perspective, of course it was an opportunity I jumped at. I knew the value of it and was incredibly motivated to do everything I could to give myself the best chance of being given the opportunity.”
After receiving over a dozen applications, Axel and Tao discussed the various applicants and made their choice, 22-year-old Red Walters from Great Britain.
“Red was one of the first riders who contacted us,” said Tao. “We were immediately impressed with his enthusiasm and the data that he shared with us. However both Axel and I were really persuaded by his commitment and determination to go over to France to race. Red faced a number of hurdles due to covid and Brexit, with getting out to his team in France. But he tackled them head on, and has been rewarded with a number of wins and podiums since making it out there. Red is in his last year of the u23 category, but we hope we can help him make it a final few months to remember, and vitally, an important stepping stone in his career and development as a cyclist.”
Red spent the 2019 season racing for the UCI Continental team, Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother. After missing out on selections the entire season, he rode to 2nd place on the track in the madison at London Six-Day. Afterward, he joined the elite-level Nopinz Symec team and found victory at Volta a la Marina Alta-Xabia, an amatuer road race in Spain. He also earned a 2nd place finish at the Primavera Road Race. When covid19 happened and racing stopped, Red switched gears and joined the Black Cyclist Network race team.
“When Tao told me I'd be selected, I was honestly over the moon,” said Red. “I can't emphasise enough how hard I tried to get this kind of opportunity for this year, so to get the chance to race with an U23 team of this calibre in my final year as an U23 is incredible. On top of that, I'm really excited about the calendar and having a chance to get more experience racing at this level.”
Red considers the biggest aspects of this opportunity are what he can learn and the experience he can gain. “It's a very different type of racing to what I'm used to, so I'll be doing everything I can to absorb as much information as possible,” he said. “I'm sure it'll be another steep learning curve, but I'm absolutely focussed on doing the best I can for the team and making the most of this awesome opportunity."
Photo Courtesy: PhippsImages.com