Whelan’s meteoric rise to the World Tour
Just two years after hanging up his running shoes, Whelan began catching the attention in the Australian cycling scene. The year 2017 marked some notable achievements, including podium finishes in stage races and criteriums, which led him to kick off the 2018 season in the Australian national championships. This was one of the defining moments in Jimmy’s career:
In 2018 I had my first big opportunity to see if I was good enough and that was at the Australian Nationals where I finished second in the Under-23 road race. And at this moment I thought ‘Okay, I could try to make a career of this, let’s see what happens.’. One of the things for sure is that I love being an athlete and I love investing my time into a sport that gives good opportunities and lets me develop as an athlete and as a person. I think it’s important. And I saw the lifestyle that many Australian pros have and the people you get to meet and the places you get to see. And also the highs and lows of cycling was kind of appealing in a weird way.
Consistently relying on sustainable growth and the merit of his achieved results, Whelan’s performances on the national stage paved the way to Europe for him, particularly in the most prestigious races for the Under-23 category. And it was with a bang that Jimmy introduced himself to the old continent, winning a race whose Elite version is one of cycling’s monuments:
With coming second in the Australian National Championships, I was able to get selection to race in the Australian team in Europe that year in the Under-23 category. And I managed to win my first race in Europe, which was the Tour of Flanders. And many people thaught ‘How could a climber win Flanders?’. Actually that year we had about a 50km finishing circuit with lots of hills. So it actually suited me quite well. I just managed to attack early and win the race. On the start line for that race, people were wondering why I was even starting the race. And the chances of me winning on paper were so low that I always look at that race and think ‘If I could win that race, I could win any race.’. And little did I know that winning that first bike race would change my life
But it changed, and in a big way!
I got a contract with EF Pro Cycling for three and a half years, within the development team for the first half and then three years with EF.