Feature: New rider - Who is Nick Schultz?Tue 26 Mar 2019
24-year-old Nick Schultz hasn’t had the easiest pathway into cycling for a modern day Australian rider.
Leaving his family and friends at the age of 18 to travel overseas alone is big ask for many, and something that not everybody could do. With this bravery and determination, Schultz has earned his way into the WorldTour, starting his journey with Mitchelton-SCOTT off with a bang, after claiming a stage victory at the team’s home race, Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
The solo move to Europe:
Many lucky young cyclists often have a helping hand on the way into the professional peloton through their national federations, but for Schultz it was slightly different. Coming from Australia and only speaking English, Schultz’s first challenge, bigger than any challenge on the bike, was to learn to communicate in a foreign team.
“I just saw cycling on TV and wanted to do it. I had just turned 18, I moved across to France to ride for an amateur team, I paid for the flight myself, went across and the team had an apartment I could stay in and paid me enough to get food and what not. It was tough at the time but actually a blessing in disguise because it makes the transition into adult life much faster and much easier.
“It was my coach from the Queensland Institute of Sport Ian Melvin who contacted a bunch of people and got in contact with the french team CR4C Roanne - that was in 2013 and I spent three years there from January to mid-October. I didn’t know anybody, everybody spoke French, I was oblivious to what it would be like, I thought it would be easy and everybody would speak English, I was just raring to go, I had no fear and just wanted to persue cycling.”
Dealing with the various challenges:
Being so far away from home actually proved to be a blessing in disguise for Schultz, having no option but to push on when times where tough, the Queensland rider believes this is what made him the rider he is today.
“I won a race in April, and then my head fell off by May. I was done and if I could have afforded it I would have probably flown home but I couldn’t, so I just had to commit and see the season out. I thought I am definitely not coming back the year after. Then maybe around September, I went to Nice and stayed with a teammate there and I had started picking up the language a bit better by then and I actually got really motivated by the last few races to try and finish well.
“I just flipped a switch and decided I would come back the year after when the team offered me a place again. I went back to Australia, worked about 30-hours a week so I could get back over to Europe again the next year and that basically continued for three years. The first year was of course the hardest but each year I spoke French a little better, got to the hang of things it a bit more and it just progressed from there.”
“I next year, 2016, I moved to SEG a Dutch team that had a much more international programme. I won a race at the Tour de Brittany and the Australian national team gave me a gig in Tour de l’Avenir. They were always really good and gave me opportunities when they could and James Victor kind of liked me as a road captain. After racing in France, knowing the Euro way a little bit more than some of the Australian riders and I actually won a stage of l’Avenir and became a stagiere for GreenEDGE.”
From France to Spain:
Picking up the French language and finding his feet in the European peloton, things were getting easier for Schultz, but with ease there’s no progression. The next natural step was to move up in the rankings to Pro-Continental team and experience the next level of racing. Which, as before, Schultz took in his stride and went from strength to strength which the each next challenge that followed.
“In 2017 I moved to Team Caja-Rural which was very Spanish, but the transition was much easier knowing that I had done it before in France. I wanted to use the two years to try and move to something bigger and better but it still had it’s challenges. The Spanish was so different to the French, I thought I would pick up the language quicker than I did so it took a bit of time. Every communication was in Spanish with just the help of one press officer who helped a lot with some translations for me.
“The racing was also a big step up, particularly with that team because we did some races like UCI 1.1, which I had done before, but then we would drop in to races like Volta Catalunya and I would just get smashed.
“That year I also did the Vuelta a España, my first Grand Tour in my first year, so it was a big jump up but also very humbling that a Spanish team chose me, a foreigner, for a Spanish Grand Tour, because it is the biggest thing for them.”
The step up to WorldTour with fellow Australians:
After progressing through the ranks, riding for various teams, needing to learn different languages and mix with new teammates and different cultures, Schultz has gained a wealth of experience and knowledge which has enabled him to mature quickly and also appreciate the simple things of being around similar people.
“Now to be on Mitchelton-SCOTT is so different. Everything was great in Caja-Rural but here everything is bigger and better, stepping up to WorldTour level, the familiarity with the guys, the language, it literally is a walk in the park, the only thing I need to think about is riding my bike. With the Spanish team you have to always really focus with the language even when your tired, sometimes it was hard to get your point across but that got better towards the end of the two years.
“Already in this team everything is as good as it can be in my eyes, having done those harder years I am grateful now and appreciate things here."
Starting with a bang
Having always raced overseas from the age of 18, Schultz had never really spent time racing in Australia until this season, when he made an impact in his first ever race in Mitchelton-SCOTT colors, taking the victory on the tough stage to Arthurs seat at the Jayco Herald SunTour.
“It was really unexpected to win the stage at the Sun Tour, it was really special. I thought my career would go a long time before getting a win, I saw myself going down the path of being a domestique for the big guys so it was really nice to get a win early and particularly being in Australia.
"I have never really raced in Australia as a pro. I’ve never done the Nationals or Sun Tour, I have always come over to Europe in the new year. It was particularly special to win in the Mitchelton-SCOTT colours and to get that opportunity.
“The biggest thing now for me will be adapting to the pressure. On the smaller teams there’s not so much pressure, we didn’t have guy like Simon Yates to work for and a specific job to do and if you sneaked in a top 20 that was a good ride. Now every race I go to have a specific role and if I do don’t my job properly and deliver every time then I won’t have much of a future so that is the next thing to really get my head around.”
Date of Birth: 13th September 1994 (23)
Turned Pro: 2017
Photo courtesy of Kramon