If all goes to plan, Tauranga teenager Tom Carter's name will soon be better known in cycling circles.

The former Aquinas College student is off to Europe on June 20, to join an American junior cycling team for the junior tour of Belgium, in a country that's a Mecca for aspiring young racers.

It's been described by Tauranga cycling veterans as an amazing opportunity for the "skinny kid" who first joined them as a 12 year-old.

Carter, 17, was one of only two international riders selected to join the American junior cycling Team Rokform.


After the junior tour of Belgium, Carter will pin his hopes on being one of two riders to stay on and race with a Belgium team until the end of the Northern hemisphere summer in September.

He says the opportunity could potentially open up so many doors, with talent scouts watching to select riders for feeder teams which host some of the big-name teams that race on the pro circuit.

Carter says it is every junior rider's dream to make it on to the world stage.

"I'm told it will be the most aggressive riding at a junior level I've ever experienced," Carter said.

"Here at home you might get 60 to 70 riders at a top level junior race, whereas in Belgium you're looking at 180 riders who are all wildly driven to win."

It is an expensive business though.

The Belgium tour is totally self-funded and there are all kinds of expenses from clothing to insurance.

"The Tauranga cycling community have been really fantastic, with Victor at Hedgehog Bikes, who sponsors me, providing me with a high level competitive Giant bike. There have been a couple of local fund raisers and I'm on www.givealittle.co.nz so a very big thanks to the people who've already donated. I need to raise up to $10,000."

His coach Paul Rogers (who has raced in Europe himself) says Carter will experience racing at the highest level.

"Cycling is the national sport of Belgium and for Tom to be invited to compete in the junior tour is just reward for all the hours he has dedicated to his chosen sport."