Pulling up trees: How Britain's Joe Blackmore is already making a name for himself on the road

The multi-discipline rider, just 21, has has made instant impact since joining the Israel-Premier Tech Academy team this year

Question: which bike rider has won the two stage races he has started and finished in 2024? You don’t need much time to correctly guess Jonas Vingegaard.

Second question: which bike rider has won the only stage race he has competed in this season, and also a major one-day race? Ding ding for saying Tadej Pogačar.

And the third question: which bike rider has won all three stage races he has ridden this season, and also the biggest one-day race on his calendar?

Head-scratcher? It should be, for the answer is a little-known British rider called Joe Blackmore whose career to date has been previously centred on off-road disciplines, racing just 22 UCI-categorised race days before this season commenced.

But after winning the sixth stage – on the day he turned 21 – at the Tour of Rwanda, Blackmore has been on a remarkable run: he subsequently won another stage and claimed the overall title in Rwanda; a few weeks later he triumphed at the Tour de Taiwan, and then topped the GC at the Circuit des Ardennes. As if that wasn’t enough, he was victorious in the U23 version of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, four days after finishing fourth at De Brabantse Pijl – his first-ever race against WorldTour opposition. “It’s been going pretty well,” he understated to Rouleur, a shyness and humility evident. “I am in races to win them, and it’s nice to be winning, but I am not overthinking it.”

Read more: Bart Lemmen: From captain in the military to Visma-Lease a Bike’s new GC rider in 13 months

His explosion on the scene has resulted in Israel-Premier Tech promoting him from their development squad and signing him to a two-year professional contract from 2025. “I’m on a good roll with this team, it’s a good place for me, and hopefully there will be good opportunities,” he said, acknowledging that other teams had enquired about recruiting him. “I’m just happy to get the contract done so I can focus on racing again.”

Joe Blackmore De Brabantse Pijl

Fourth place at De Brabantse Pijl was an impressive first outing against some of the world's top riders (Photo: Thomas Sisk - Pool/Getty Images)

Until last season, Blackmore’s cycling focus was limited to mountain biking and cyclo-cross, although his first forays into cycling were training at Herne Hill Velodrome in South London, the breeding ground of so many young British pros. “You always dream of being a pro cyclist and I hoped it would work out because I didn’t really have a plan B,” he said. “I just tried to give it everything and it’s working out at the moment.”

As a junior rider, his results were steady but unremarkable, and neither was he pulling up trees on Great Britain's U23 program. But then 2023 proved to be a major turning point: he claimed his first UCI cyclocross victory in the winter, became U23 national mountain bike champion in the summer, and in September sprinted past Ineos Grenadiers' Connor Swift to win the British Gravel Championships. He was also taking his first steps in the world of road racing, finishing a noteworthy 12th at the Tour de l’Avenir.

“For sure I’ve done more off-road and still will, but it's been going alright on the road,” he added, again minimising his accomplishments. “I have had some good results in mountain biking, but there’s less development and the big teams only take in three or four guys at a time, so I thought I should do some road races and realised I enjoyed it.” As soon as Israel offered him a one-year deal on their development set-up, he snapped at it. “They were more than happy for me to do some off-road as well so I thought I’d give it a go.”

Joe Blackmore Tour de Rwanda

Two stage wins and the overall at the Tour du Rwanda was a sign of things to come (Photo: Guillem Sartorio / AFP via Getty Images)

Softly spoken, Blackmore seems to be slowly coming to terms with the reality of how talented he is and similarly appears to struggle to understand the interest surrounding his emergence on the road scene. When it’s put to him that he has been in domineering form, he takes issue with the phrase. “In Rwanda I was only in yellow in the final two days; in Taiwan I won on the last day thanks to bonus sprints; and I only won Ardennes on the last day, taking a 10-second bonus. Both Taiwan and the Ardennes were super close races, and it wasn't clear I’d win them. It worked out in the end, but it was a fine line.”

He will soon switch his attention back to the mud and trails, with the U23 European Mountain Bike Championships in Romania in mid-May his next target. His cyclocross bike, however, might remain untouched indefinitely. “I’ve just done a winter without cyclocross and I’ve started the season really well,” he said. “It was hard to see people racing cross and for me not to be there, but it’s paid off. Another winter without ‘cross training would be good for me.”

In between his mountain biking commitments, it is likely that Blackmore will also ride for Israel’s ProTeam at various junctures of the season. He’s too self-deprecating to rate his chances of success, but he will give an opinion on the types of races that suit him. “I think probably one-week stage races,” he said. “I’m not a pure climber, but I can climb pretty well, and am quite punchy, so shorter climbs like at Liège are quite good for me. I also feel like I’m decent in a reduced group sprint, but not in a big bunch sprint. I’ll have to see when I get to more races.

“Whether it’s on the road, mountain bike, cyclocross, whatever I am racing and doing the best in, I will enjoy it. Whatever level it is, wherever it is, I am here to be a bike racer and try to win races because I just enjoy winning.” Is the wheelie celebration, as he showcased in Rwanda, going to become a frequent sighting? “I was thinking about that in the last kilometre of Liège but there was a rider just a bit too close for a wheelie celebration!” he laughed. “Maybe if I have a big gap in the future I’ll try it again.” Remember the name: Joe Blackmore.

Cover image by Thomas Maheux/SWPix

Shop now