2012 is not quite one month old, and already all the signs are pointing to a fantastic year for British cycling.
The presence of Sir Chris Hoy at last Saturday’s Revolution meeting in the Manchester velodrome drew a sell-out crowd, and millions more will have enjoyed his performances, and those of world champion, Jason Kenny, during last night’s televised highlights. The ranks of Britain’s UCI Continental squads have been further strengthened by the addition of former Garmin-Cervelo rider, Daniel Lloyd, another former WorldTour competitor finding a domestic team to match his ambitions. The presence of Lloyd at Team IG-Sigma Sport and Russell Downing at Endura Racing can only enhance the growing reputation of our top domestic teams.
Which brings us to Team Raleigh-GAC. One of six British teams with UCI Continental status, its current crop of riders are heirs to a heritage to rival any team in professional cycling. Team manager, Cherie Pridham, is keenly aware of the team’s illustrious past and in 2012 will be working to take her current crop of young riders, bolstered by nine new signings, to the next level. Ambitious but realistic (the team has no plans to ride the Tour de France in the immediate future), Pridham is focused on domestic results as a step to European success and possible elevation to Pro Continental status in a few years time. We asked Cherie for her view on the 2012, a year we’re all hoping will be British Cycling’s greatest year.
What are your goals for 2012?
“To progress the team. Raleigh has an iconic background. For us, it’s a new start, a new era. We’re a young team. For me, it’s important to bring youth through. We have very big ambitions. I don’t want to say we’re going to ride the Tour De France, but we certainly want to get back to a level where Raleigh as a brand deserves to be. We have to keep our feet firmly on the ground. The aim is to be stronger. We need results in the UK as a stepping stone into Europe, and maybe ride at Pro Continental level in a few years time.”
Is 2012 the year that cycling becomes truly mainstream in the UK?
“I can only describe it as tantalizing. Every manager, whether it’s John Herety at Rapha Condor Sharp, or Brian Smith at Endura Racing, is aware what could happen. It could be huge. For such a small country to have six UCI Continental teams is a sign that things are pointing in the right direction. Each of the teams will have their own ambitions. We’ve got to keep the support of the British public.”
What bridges does cycling still have to cross in 2012?
“The beauty of our sport is that you can walk straight up to a rider and shake his hand. It’s such an open sport. At the Lincoln Grand Prix last year, a young family came up and the riders shook hands with their little boy. We had a lovely email from the dad saying his son now wanted to be a cyclist and his first bike would be a Raleigh. That’s just one example from a million. That’s the attitude we all have to have.”
What is your advice to anyone bitten by the cycling bug in 2012?
“If there’s an event in your area, just get yourself along. Once you’ve experienced the atmosphere, the excitement, and the vibe, you’ll be hooked.”
Can Mark Cavendish win the Olympic road race?
“For sure. We love Mark Cavendish. The little fella’s got tremendous speed. It’s one of his big goals and the British public will be right behind him. I think with the support of Team Sky and British Cycling, he just needs a bit of luck on the day.”