Features Insight

2020 review: breakthrough rides #3 | Max Poole

The first-year British junior who turned heads at the GP Rüebliland

Max Poole may not be a name you are familiar with, yet. But the 17-year-old junior proved in 2020 he is one to watch in the coming years.

I was pretty surprised after seeing the results, to beat some of the guys I beat

The Fensham Howes – MAS Design rider made the most of limited racing opportunities last season. He bookended his first year as a junior with a very respectable 14th in the junior Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in March and 4th overall in the prestigious Phillipe Gilbert Juniors stage race in October.

Photo: GP Rüebliland

The performance that first turned our heads, however, was at the Swiss stage race the GP Rüebliland in early September.

Max Poole (Fensham Howes – MAS Design) | 2nd, stage 3, GP Rüebliland (J-2.1), 5 September

The four-stage GP Rüebliland was a rare opportunity in 2020 for junior riders to test themselves in a UCI race against some of Europe’s finest. Max’s Fensham Howes – MAS Design squad dispatched a six-rider team to the race, including Joe Pidcock (now Groupama-FDJ Continental), Bob Donaldson (now GB Senior Academy) and Matthew Kingston (now Holdsworth-Zappi).

Max finished 16th on the first stage and 46th on the second, to leave him sitting 9th overall and atop the young rider classification. Stage 3, a time trial, was an opportunity for Max to move up the general classification.

Photo: GP Rüebliland

“I think going into it we knew this was going to be the most important stage of the whole tour”, said Max, “so I’d say there was a lot riding on it. I’ve never really thought myself to be much of a TTer but after seeing the course it gave me a bit more confidence to move up the GC and try and close the gaps to top.”

He achieved his aim of moving up the standings with aplomb. He moved himself up to 5th overall with a ride that saw him finish just fractions of a second behind the stage winner Marco Brenner. For those that don’t know, Brenner was one of the most formidable juniors around, a multiple UCI race winner and a time trialling powerhouse. So talented, in fact, that Team DSM signed up him up to ride in their WorldTour squad from 2021.

To be so close to Marco definitely gave me a boost

That Max came so close to beating him is a mark of just how good Max has the potential to be. If nothing else, it was certainly a confidence-boosting moment.

“Obviously it was a pretty bittersweet result. To be a tenth of a second or whatever off the win made it quite difficult not to think about the mistakes and ‘what ifs’, but ultimately I could only really take away the positives. And although I still wouldn’t consider myself to be a time trialist it gives me that confidence to go out there and deliver when I need to.”

“To be honest I was pretty surprised after seeing the results, to beat some of the guys I beat. To be so close to Marco definitely gave me a boost going into the final stage, knowing I wasn’t out of my depth and had decent legs to battle it out.” 

Max went on to maintain his 5th place overall and we duly scribbled his name down as ‘one to watch’.