Caymanian cyclist to join top European development team

Caymanian cyclist Nathaniel Forbes heads to Europe for the summer racing season after signing for a top, Under-23 (U23), international development cycling team based in Portugal. The double National U23 Cycling Champion (2022) has secured a place on a development cycling team in Portugal for the upcoming summer 2023 cycling season.

Nathaniel’s coach, Ken Gokool, a UCI Coach, organized this exceptional rare opportunity through collaboration with fellow UCI European coaches. After reviewing Nathaniel’s training and road racing statistics, the coaches and team management immediately offered him a place on their team.

Nathaniel will join the team in early May for the upcoming season’s road racing circuit in Europe. This development cycling team is a ‘step-up’ team from which bigger, professional continental teams have access to these young riders.

This is a significant opportunity for the George Town 20-year-old, as these positions are rarely available for most cyclists, especially from the Caribbean. By taking advantage of this opportunity, Nathaniel follows in the footsteps of Cayman’s only pro-cyclist, Perri Merren-OLY, who raced in Europe in the mid-1990’s. He also

continues the family tradition of exceptional athletic talent—his cousin is three-time Olympian hurdler, Mr. Ronald Forbes-OLY.

This invitation from the team in Portugal is the second time this year that Nathaniel gained the attention of another elite team. Through Coach Gokool’s support, Nathaniel secured a spot on the Caribbean AVR Racing Team at the three-day, Jamaican International Cycling Classic in January. He served as a domestique cyclist, protecting the AVR team leaders. His team won the overall race, and despite being a domestique, Nathaniel placed in the Top 10th general classification overall, and was the only under-20-year-old (U23) to make this accomplishment.

Nathaniel’s brilliant international performances since 2019 at the age of 17, and during the recent Jamaican International Cycling Classic, have opened the door to this latest opportunity. It will allow him to further his career by giving exposure to the quality of racing on the European circuit. It will also give him access to professional cycling teams. Coach Gokool said Nathaniel’s training was adjusted a few months so that his new team coaches will be able to give him that European edge needed to be considered for selections by continental pro teams for the 2024/2025 racing season.

Nathaniel is due to race in a series of events in Portugal and Spain including the U-23 cycling tour of Portugal, Volta a Portuga futuro, in June 2023. In this event, he will be racing with the Continental U-23 pro teams. Coach Gokool said, “As his coach, I am proud of Nathaniel, and hopeful that one day, we can sit and watch Cayman’s Nathaniel Forbes race on a European continental team to a world tour team, eventually, racing in one of the cycling grand tours.”

After receiving this invitation from the team, Nathaniel reached out to his many supporters, past cycling Olympians, local private sponsors, Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, and The Ministry of Youth, Sports, Culture & Heritage, for giving him that big push and assistance he needed to make this move to Europe.

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