2016 Tour Series – Exciting and Close Racing for Raleigh GAC
Raleigh GAC Pro Cycling sponsored by Don Amott Leisure look back at an exciting five weeks on the road in the Tour Series
Whilst winning is the goal of every team in the Tour Series, and that eluded Raleigh GAC in 2016, the series was still a roller coaster and a success for everyone involved. Three times, riders wearing the Raleigh GAC colours the riders stood on the podium as winner of the Points award during the series and three times they finished in the top three individually.
It is however a team event, with the first four riders of five who start counting to the team classification and despite some bad luck during the series, especially in Edinburgh when a victory was looking likely, the riders in the team, with three of them never having done it before, acquitted themselves well with a victory, two seconds and two third places.
Team owner Cherie Pridham, who has been involved in the Tour Series for many years, admits the series was pretty exciting to be part of. “The level up appears to keeping going up and the races seem to get faster each year.”
The ‘Tour Series’ is a major event for professional cycling teams in the UK and many will have success in the Tour Series in mind when signing riders during the off season. Cherie at Raleigh GAC was no different. “I knew when I signed these riders, we’d have a strong team for the overall and we have been competitive”.
“If you look at the results over the series, there hasn’t been a fag paper between most of the teams except for JLT Condor.”
Within the Raleigh GAC team were three riders who have or are World Champions on the track; Seb Mora (current world champion), and Albert Torres and Morgan Kniesky (both former world champions). Of them, two (Seb and Albert) had never done the Tour Series before.
“Both Albert and Seb have never ridden crits as we know them” explained Cherie “and the British are best in the world at it. So it’s been a learning curve for them. They are very good riders, among the best track endurance riders in the world and world champions on the track but to excel in the Tour Series, you have to learn about your discipline and both acquitted themselves very well and they can be proud of that”.
An example of that is when they raced outside of the Tour Series in a circuit race at Shrewsbury and Albert Torres won with Steven Roach second, a 1-2 for the team against riders racing the Tour Series.
Talking about that race in Shropshire, Cherie explained, “it is always good for the guys to keep ticking over between Tour Series races and keeping the routine of racing and recovering going. Shrewsbury was good for the guys to ride as a team and get a result which is always good for morale. It also gives the younger riders like Jack Escritt a race with the big boys where he can see what he has to step up to”.
The win at Shrewsbury however was just a stepping stone to the one they had been aiming for in the Tour Series, a team victory and that came in Durham and it was probably one of the biggest in Tour Series history.
“Team Raleigh have always seemed to do well at Durham” says Cherie. “The harder the circuit, the more the riders seem to enjoy getting stuck in. It was well deserved after we went out with the intention of winning that.”
“I’m very pleased in how they won that race after a run of bad luck which went all the way back to the first round and the team time trial.”
Whilst Edinburgh (round 3) saw the riders having to deal with punctures and crashes, there were other rounds like Stevenage where in Cherie’s words, they team had their bad day in the office. But, with the riders full of self pride, two days later they bounced back in Croydon where they were second by 3/10ths of a second in the team classification. IE, each team adds up the times of the first four riders and the team that beat Raleigh GAC on the night, defending series champions Madison Genesis, were a mere 3/10’s of second faster.
Looking back at that round, Cherie says “I knew Seb (Mora) likes to attack a race as he’s an aggressive rider but in the Tour Series, you did need to ride within yourself as you need to focus on the team. On that night however, I said to him, go out and enjoy it, be aggressive to see what he could get out of it”.
Overall, the series showed how competitive the team is and in the second half of the season with more major town centre races to come as well as National Series Road Races, they aim to build on their success.
Cherie says of the Tour Series 2016, that there were many highlights like seeing the team together on the start line for the Team Time Trial on the Isle of Man only for them to suffer some bad luck. They did however bounce back and whilst bad luck again struck again in Edinburgh, seeing the five riders working together as a unit and for a while, look likely winners, was a key moment for not just the team owner but the riders as well.
Unsurprisingly, when the team win came in Durham, the toughest of the rounds, that too was a major highlight especially as it came with some sponsors of the team (Toyota GB) at the race watching the riders race to one of the biggest margins of victory ever in the Tour Series (five minutes plus).
Whilst victory eluded them in the remaining rounds, for Cherie, watching her riders fight back in Croydon to go ever so close to the win was another moment to cherish as was the final fight at Portsmouth where despite crashing and losing a lot of skin, Steve Roach’s performance to carry on racing, epitomised the fight the riders have for the colours they wear with pride.
“We will come back stronger and wiser as a team” says Cherie who says the next step for the team will be the Elite Circuit Series where the team have tasted success in the past in some of the country’s biggest town centre events.
Don Amott are proud to sponsor Team Raleigh GAC
Thanks to Larry Hickmott ( Aussie Larry ! )