Tour of Britain 2021: Conti’s British teams have plenty to play for
Photo: Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
A frequent sight on the Tour of Britain is that of British UCI Continental teams lighting it up at the front of the race, jumping in breakaways and racking up points in jersey competitions.
A different aspect this year is the way they started. Usually their classification process is done through points accumulated through final positions on various races throughout the season, or “laps” – a scenario that will return in 2022.
For example, in 2018 these events included the Chorley Grand Prix, the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic, the Tour de Yorkshire, the Tour Series and the Lincoln Grand Prix. JLT Condor qualified with 49 points, with ONE Pro Cycling and Madison Genesis on 42 and Canyon Eisberg on 39.
Unfortunately, three of those four teams no longer exist, although others have won. At the Tour of Britain this year will be Canyon dhb SunGod (formerly Canyon Eisberg), Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling (pictured above), Saint Piran, SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling and Trinity Racing.
Organizers Sweetspot and British Cycling have invited the five UCI British continental teams due to the lack of racing opportunities caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Describing their preparation for the Tour of Britain, Carolyn Nelson, director of the SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling team, revealed that they were asked to complete at least one UCI race beforehand. But their early season plans were dashed after the cancellation of the Tour de Normandie and Loir et Cher e Provost stage races as well as one-day events in Belgium and the Netherlands.
“It’s fair to say it’s been a very different year. We have had a number of team training camps and meetups at our Yorkshire base, and these have allowed the team to get to know each other and ride together. Not the same as racing, but the best alternative given the situation.
“Thanks to our links with Portugal – our main sponsor, SwiftCarbon is based in Porto – we have received invitations to the Volta ao Alentejo and the Volta a Portugal Santander.
“By the time we were about to leave for Alentejo, the travel rules changed. Portugal went from a green country to an amber country, and one of the team members tested positive for Covid, so we had to withdraw.
“We successfully participated in the 12 days Volta a Portugal Santander in August. However, competing against World Tour and Pro Tour teams that have been racing since early spring, in the scorching heat of Portugal with a hilly course was always going to be difficult, but we came home with a lot of great races in our legs. .
Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling team principal Tom Timothy also explained their preparation for the Tour of Britain through races in Norway and Slovenia before the start line in Cornwall, also defending the importance of the team staff effort.
“The coronavirus has made it difficult, but we’ve really made sure to give the riders a schedule that will prepare them for the race, by participating in events like the Tour of Norway and the Tour of Slovenia.
“It’s a testament from our backroom staff how well everything has gone with guys like Colin Sturgess and James Huntly helping out on the road and it’s been a real team effort. ‘
The local county team, Saint Piran, will also be in Cornwall when the Tour of Britain kicks off. Considering this, expect to see them making noise in the early stages.
The first day is a 180 km route from Penzance which surely has its name everywhere in terms of escape at least. Riders will climb three category three climbs and two intermediate sprints before the finish in Bodmin.
“It’s our moment in the sun, so we’re going to burn a few matches the first few days. Visibility is the key to us, but the standard is so high these days.
“The Tour of Britain is difficult. I am proud that we are giving Steve Lampier his dream, a Cornish driver on Cornish roads in a world class event. ‘
Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling, Saint Piran and Trinity Racing will all make their race debuts. Much talk surrounding continental teams rubbing shoulders with fellow WorldTour compatriots centers on what they can learn from those higher up in the ranks.
On the flip side, however, there is still a lot that can be shared both ways. James Shaw will be alongside his Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling teammates, fresh off their impressive fifth overall in Norway and Slovenia alongside the opposition World Tour.
Tom Timothy said: “I think as a team we obviously had limited resources compared to a World Tour team but on the other hand that means we really make sure we get the most out of it. all we have. I think this approach has really paid off, evidenced by James Shaw’s results in the Tour of Norway and Slovenia, beating World Tour opposition with a rental car in the convoy due to travel restrictions from Covid!
When asked what they expected most, Carolyn Nelson cited fans and – not to spoil it – potentially the weather.
“We look forward to the support of the fans who have sorely missed us. There is nothing more exciting than being in the team car after the race on epic climbs. I also look forward to the heat wave announced, because our time in Portugal means that we have already acclimated well to the race in hot conditions. ‘
Hopefully the Tour of Britain goes easier than a rental car in the team convoy, but one thing is for sure. British UCI Continental teams could line up on 5e September after a completely different year from normal, but for those debuting or returning they can’t wait to go.
And also, never underestimate them. Leave them too loose at your own risk …