British cycling is certain to receive a further boost in popularity this year from its elite athletes, not only at the Olympics, and from the efforts of home riders in the WorldTour, but also from the Britain’s six UCI Continental teams.
More modestly funded than their WorldTour counterparts, but equally ambitious, they will compete in international races and the biggest events on the domestic calendar, including the televised Tour Series. Competing alongside Endura Racing, Team Raleigh, UK Youth, Team IG Sigma Sport, and Node4-Giordana will be Rapha-Condor-Sharp, the highest ranked of any British Continental squad for the last three years and winners of last year’s Tour Series.
John Herety will once again steer the Rapha Condor Sharp outfit in 2012. A former Olympian, national road race champion and Milk Race stage winner, Herety has managed the squad since its earliest incarnation as Recyling.co.uk in 2006. Championing a new direction, Herety will develop young talent like Felix English, Luke Mellor, Oliver Rossi, and the latest Manx sensation, Tim Kennaugh, younger brother of Team Sky’s Pete.
While the team will be officially unveiled on February 22, we spoke to Herety while he was with the team at their Lanzarote training base, getting his thoughts on his team’s goals for the year ahead, Cav’s chances in the Olympic road race, and cycling’s prospects for hitting the mainstream in 2012.
What are your goals for 2012?
“To get through 2012 unscathed! It doesn’t sound like a massive ambition, but we have a lot of new riders that we’ll be trying to develop and build a foundation for this project for the years ahead.”
Is 2012 the year that cycling becomes truly mainstream in the UK?
“I think we’re very, very close. We’re at Malcolm Gladwell’s tipping point. It will only take a fantastic Olympics to push us into the mainstream. Whether that’s a good thing if it takes us into the world of football celebrity remains to be seen! There’s a tendency to look at the top of the sport, but it would be great to see a trickle down effect to commuting and all areas of cycling.”
What bridges does cycling still have to cross in 2012?
“There’s still far too many deaths on the road. I’m out there on a daily basis with our riders. There’s still a number of altercations with motorists everyday, and that’s not just in the UK. That happens all over the world, even in supposedly famous cycling nations. We still have some way to go.”
Can Mark Cavendish win the Olympic road race?
“Yes. I’m a massive fan. There’s no question that when the boy puts his mind to it, there’s nothing he can’t do.”
What advice do you have for anyone bitten by the cycling bug in 2012?
“Go to a decent, independent bike shop and get some advice. While you don’t have to spend massive amounts of money, get the best bike you can afford. Don’t go over the top because if you like this sport, I guarantee you, you will be spending more money on your next bike!”