Ribble Weldtite’s youngest pro rider at just 18, George Mills-Keeling has real grit and determination for racing, especially on the short, steep, and punchy climbs

The youngest of the Ribble Weldtite Pro Team: George Mills-Keeling

In this blog series we want to introduce you to the full Ribble Weldtite team – this week we have the youngest racer, George Mills-Keeling.

George, you’re the youngest on the team. Tell us a little more about yourself. I am an 18-year-old road cyclist for Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling. Up until coronavirus, I was full time at my local sixth form studying business and sociology.

I got into cycling 8 years ago at my local cycling club, but I didn’t start racing really until the second year with the under 14s. Since then I have just grown to where I am today.

How did you get involved with Ribble Weldtite? After my second place in the Junior Tour of Wales the team got in touch with me. I had contacted them before the race so it was great to hear from them.

What types of race are your favourite / do you prefer? I prefer hilly and punchy stage races.

Hills, hills and more hills

How is lockdown training going for you? I have adapted my training around my new focus at the moment which is Zwift races. This is the race season I have trained all winter for so I have to make the most of the 4 months of decent legs. I am also very lucky where I live in Shropshire, pretty hilly but very quiet. 

Tell us about climbing tips then, what is the biggest tip to get faster up the climbs? It’s all to do with power to weight and riding at a high cadence. It is also important to not panic if someone goes nuts at the bottom of a long climb as you will usually go straight past them in a few minutes time.

Do you go on power on a climb in a race or just hold on? Depends on the length of climb. On a short climb such as those in the UK that we tend to race, it would be more useful to go into the red just to stay within the group.

With his teammates – undoubtedly smashing out some watts

How do you train for short sharp hills vs long steady ones? It’s a mixture of turbo and real-world training. On the turbo it is very easy to replicate climbs or do efforts of a certain amount of time. In terms of real-world riding I am lucky that I have plenty of short sharp climbs and longer climbs if I ride a little further.

Which type do you prefer or are better suited? My best results have come from races with long climbs. Around 10-20 minutes such as in Wales or Spain. I also enjoyed racing on the climbs in the south of Belgium.

Have you always been a good climber? No, as a youth I was actually fairly tall compared to the majority of riders and I would get walked on at the hilly races in the Youth national series. Since I was around 15 I haven’t really grown all that much, but I have increased my power a lot.

Sunny Spain

How or can you train for hills if you live somewhere flat? Yes, you can definitely. It would be a job of riding on the turbo with different platforms that could simulate any climbs you want. You could also do the power efforts on the road, you would just go faster.

What is your favourite climb to train on? One local and abroad. There are a few notable climbs locally, literally one mile from my door there is a 20minute climb that takes you to the bottom of a 10-minute Welsh style lane climb, which is really good. I also quite like the climbs in Spain, specifically those such as Sa Calobra in Mallorca.

Where is your favourite place to ride? I’m quite contrasted on this one. I went to stay in the Netherlands at the end of last year to do some races there and it’s amazing for cycling, no hills though. I would like to say my favourite place would be somewhere such as Mallorca specifically Pollenca.

Do you prefer rim or disc brake bikes for climbing?
I personally have loved riding on disc brakes. I think they would be quicker when it comes to racing on climbs because of the added confidence you could have going down the other side. This is something you cannot guarantee with rim brakes.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
 I actually quite enjoy riding on the turbo -especially the races.

A fan of the steep, sharp and punchy climbs

What is one climb you have done you would never want to do again? And why?
There is the one climb locally which starts on a really nice road and then just disappears into the worst lane you have ever seen. Grass in the middle, gravel and the hedgerow which hasn’t been cut for years. Not to mention the potholes. Not the most fun to climb.

What is a climb you have never done, but are really keen to try? I would like to ride some of the famous climbs that the Tour de France takes on such as Alpe d’Huez. I have also always wanted to go and ride some of the climbs in Thailand as they look epic.

If you enjoyed this read then why not take the time to read about why Ribble Weldtite rider Damien Clayton quit his job to take up his passion for racing. Read his story here.

After a great end to the 2019 season which included picking up a bronze medal at the World Road Race Championships Dan Bigham shares his story here.

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