Team IG-Sigma Sport have unveiled their 2012 squad at the London headquarters of the team’s co-sponsor, IG Markets.
All but one of the 2012 squad, which includes former Garmin-Cervelo rider, Dan Lloyd, Tom Murray, silver medalist at the recent national madison championships, and 2009 Ras winner, Simon Richardson, attended the launch.
Steven Burke had a prior engagement with Great Britain’s team pursuit squad across town at the London velodrome.
Team manager, Matt Stephens, told the gathering of guests and journalists there was “no doubt” that his 2012 squad was the strongest in the team’s history, adding that racing with “style and panache” held equal importance with results.
He thanked Sigma Sport owners, Ian Whittingham and Jason Turner, for continuing their support for a twelfth year and said IG’s backing had taken his team to a “crossroads”.
Speaking afterwards, Stephens, a former national road race champion, who rode the Tour Down Under and Giro d’Italia in 2000, told RoadCyclingUK his team would target domestic events including the Tour of Britain in 2012.
“Our focus is on the British scene,” said Stephens.
“IG and Sigma want us to be at our best in domestic races like the Premier Calendars and the Tour of Britain.
“But to race well domestically, especially against the Continental teams, we need to race abroad. It’s good experience and good exposure, but it also gives us the condition to race domestically,” he said.
Stephens’ riders will fly to Tuscany tomorrow for a further training camp, before starting their season in Singapore to begin an international programme that will include early season events in Belgium and New York, and in May, the AN Post Ras.
He said he wanted his team to be known for aggression on the bike and openness off it.
“One of the reasons IG came to us is because of our ‘never say die’ attitude. I don’t want our guys to be afraid of bike racing. I don’t want guys who finish without being absolutely spent. IG could have gone to anybody. They came to us,” he said.
The reputation of British cycling had “never been better,” he added.
“Every year we get 60 or 70 CVs from guys in big teams who want to come across and race in England – Antiopdeans, French, Germans, and Belgians, wanting to sample British racing. It’s also about people coming in from outside cycling, like IG, otherwise it becomes insular,” he said.
Olly Stevens, global sponsorship manager at IG Markets, told RoadCyclingUK he had been impressed by Team Sigma Sport’s aggressive style at the 2011 Tour of Britain.
“As a fan, I’ve followed the British scene for many years. When we were at the Tour of Britain last year, the way Sigma Sport attacked continuously was very impressive. They weren’t phased by the bigger teams around them. That was something we really admired. We started chatting to Matt [Stephens] and his passion for the team and his willingness to take on others was impressive,” he said.
Stevens added that IG Markets was committed to the team for at least two years, and said the company, which also sponsors Team Sky and the Tour of Britain, and runs its own rider ranking index, was pleased to be involved with the growth of British cycling. He identified Jon Tiernan-Locke’s victory for Endura Racing at last week’s Tour of the Mediterranean as evidence of a talented generation of British riders that extended beyond those who have become household names.
“IG sees cycling as a big growth sport. The success of the riders is not just limited to the Wiggins and the Cavendishes. There’s a whole generation of British cyclists with the potential to compete at world level. We’ve had great riders in the past – Robert Millar, Chris Boardman – but they’ve come along one at a time. There wasn’t that critical mass. Sky have taken it to another level and now other teams want to emulate that,” he said.