Jack Rootkin-Gray steps up to EF Education-EasyPost
The British rookie will make his WorldTour debut in 2024
In 2024, Jack Rootkin-Gray will fulfill his first great ambition.
Jack decided he wanted to become a professional cyclist when he was seven. Next season, he will make his WorldTour debut with EF Education-EasyPost. Jack brings talent, grit, and pure racing instinct to our team.
The 20-year-old British rider had to stick to his line to make it to the pros. He’s won three races this season, and finished fourth at the U23 world championships just a few weeks ago, but, a couple of years ago, he was ready to give up the sport and take up a spot at the London School of Economics.
Jack grew up in the British track program. It was a great school for him, as an up-and-coming athlete, but Jack has never been one for riding in circles in air-conditioned arenas. He loves racing on the open road and has done so ever since he was six and saw a local club out training round a park near his boyhood home in Worcestershire, England. As soon as he saw those racers, all kitted out on their sparkling bikes, he knew he wanted to do the same thing. His dad, a daily cycle commuter, bought Jack his first racing bike. The summer he was seven, Jack decided he wanted to become a pro.
He played football, rugby, tennis, hockey, swimming, and track-and-field right through school, but never gave up his childhood dream.
“The thing on the bike is the freedom that you feel when you are just riding,” Jack says. “When you are cycling, you can go wherever you want, for however long you want all by yourself and you get that sense of freedom.”
A trip to Belgium to race kermesses with some friends when he was 15 got him even more excited about cycling. Riding around tidy parks in England was one thing. Rattling over cobbles at 200 heart beats per minute, chopping corners through corn and wheat fields, and outwitting his wiliest rivals from winning breaks—that was bike racing! And Jack was good at it. He was pretty good at riding around in circles on wooden boards too, but the track didn’t get his heart racing like road racing did.
“We’d go to Belgium and race on actual roads and it was just the most exciting thing I had ever done,” Jack says. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is so good compared to what we do.’ I had been on the track with the GB track program since I was like 14, and I left that when I was 19. I just really didn’t like it anymore. I feel like when you get older, you start to question, ‘Should I be doing this more?’ So, I just stopped for a few months. I was going to study at LSE, but then a friend convinced me to give it another go, and now I have got to where I am now.”
Jack earned his WorldTour chance with his exploits on the road. He returned to racing with new fire. He trained smart and raced hard every chance he got and racked up an impressive tally of results, both at home and around Europe. His ride in Glasgow, on that formidable world championship circuit, proves that he is one of the best U23 riders in the world right now. Going forward, Jack still doesn’t know what kind of pro he is going to be.
“It feels like we start again now,” Jack says. “This is just pretty much all I have ever wanted to do, ever since I was seven. I am really excited. Everything that we have done until now was just about getting here, and now we start again. It’s like going to a new school as a kid. You don’t really know what it is going to be like, but you feel excited.”
EF Education-EasyPost CEO Jonathan Vaughters is also excited about Jack’s future.
“Jack is a gutsy and smart rider,” Vaughters says. “While young, he’s already quite savvy. Jack has wisdom beyond his years. He’ll be a valuable member of our classics team.”
For his part, Jack is just going to chuck himself into WorldTour racing and try to do his best every time he rolls over a start line. He’ll keep trying to get better. He’s going to make sure he enjoys the process too. Long term, he wants to be competitive in the classics, and throw down with the best riders in the world when the hardest, most tactical races of the season are going down. He can win with his brain.
“I would say that I am a thinker,” Jack says. “I like breakaways, and I like the classics, because they have so much finesse to them. The Monuments, the world champs—I think they are the most amazing races to watch, and hopefully ride!”
That is not to say that Jack is necessarily going to become a classics rider through and through. He cut his chops racing in England. Although he loves tea and scones and London and the country pubs that dot the rolling hills that he calls home, he is considering a move abroad, so he can ride more often in the mountains. He wants to see how good he can get at climbing.
“I don’t really know if I will be the same type of rider in the WorldTour as I am now, as I am still changing quite a lot,” he says. “I am drawn to the breakaways and the one days because they are less calculated. However, I would absolutely love to be world class at going up a hill, because I think that is the most pure part of cycling. I wish England had mountains, because I really love mountains. When you are just riding up a mountain, that is the most beautiful part of cycling.”
Check back in next year to see how much Jack loves mountains when he’s racing up them in the WorldTour. Jack’s first season will sometimes be hard. He knows that. It’s bike racing. That’s what Jack loves about it. And the bikes—Jack can’t wait to roll out on his sparkling, new, team-edition Cannondale. He is going to race the heck out of it.
“I am just going to soak it up and go one-hundred-percent in to whatever I am asked to do and work hard, and make the most of it, and enjoy it,” Jack says.
Welcome to the team!