Plowman Craven manager Garry Beckett is standing down following a bust up with team captain Tony Gibb at the Tour of Britain.
Gibb was forced to withdraw before the start in London due to injury but accompanied the team on the eight-stage tour. Tensions boiled over on the final day?s racing.
?We were toe to toe in Liverpool,? said Beckett. ?In retrospect we were both a couple of silly bastards. I sat down with [team owner] Simon Barnes and said ?enough is enough?.” Beckett and Gibb have made up and the Plowman Craven manager stressed the spat had no bearing on him leaving the team.
Beckett said: “It’s all very amicable. Plowman Craven have been very good to me. Simon Barnes is a lovely man and I am very grateful to him for the opportunity to be manager of the team. I still have some loose ends to tie up, I won’t be walking away immediately, I will see it through to the end of the season.”
Barnes played down the row in Liverpool, saying Beckett?s decision to quit had been discussed prior to last week?s tour. ?Tony and Gary go back a long way: they are like a married couple,? said Barnes, ?but you shouldn?t do that in public.?
It was a race of mixed fortunes for Plowman Craven. After a disastrous start with Alex Higham?s disqualification on the opening stage, Evan Oliphant featured in a day-long break between Darlington and Gateshead and Simon Richardson ended the tour 17th overall.
?Overall, I was pleased with the coverage,? said Barnes. ?The UK teams are competing on a diet of mostly home racing, and racing in the UK has improved. ITV were very happy with the viewing figures for the tour.?
Beckett steps down after this weekend?s Richmond Grand Prix, while Barnes is busy planning next season?s campaign. ?It will be a different team,? he said. ?Bigger and better. Different management, different riders and new sponsors. Watch this space.?
HIGHAM DQ RILED BECKETT
The Tour of Britain got off to a bad start for Plowman Craven when Higham was disqualified for holding onto the neutral service car during Sunday’s criterium in London.
Beckett felt it was an extremely harsh decision and says plenty of team managers agreed with him.
The PCA manager was out the back of the field giving a wheel to another of his riders, who had just punctured, when he heard over the race radio that Higham had also punctured.
“There was no way I could get up there in time, so Alex had to use neutral service to change his wheel,” said Beckett. “Because he’d hit a pothole hard, his bars had also slipped. He rode alongside neutral service and asked for a tool to tighten them. Obviously when you’re riding along you can’t have someone else trying to work on your bars, it’s too dangerous.
“He was holding onto the neutral service car and that’s why the commissaire disqualified him. But it was extremely harsh and all week people were coming up to me saying we’d been hard done by. He was trying to get service from the neutral support car but the commissaire took a different view.
“Alex was distraught. He’s such a lovely fella and he’s been branded a cheat because of this and he absolutely isn’t. The Tour of Britain was his last big race. He’s packing it in to finish his qualifications to become a GP. He’s the last person to do anything wrong, he really is.
“It smacked of commissaires wanting to wave the rule book.”
The Tour of Britain may have been a bitter-sweet experience for Beckett but he said he noticed a change in attitude among the general public delayed to allow the race safe passage.
“In previous years motorists have been stopped with steam coming out of their ears, but this year people were getting out of their cars taking pictures on their phones,” he said. “The Olympics has obviously had an effect.”
BACK TO THE SIX DAYS
Beckett had long worked as a soigneur, particularly on the Six-Day circuit, and he will return to that this winter. “I love swannying [working as a soigneur],” he said. “So it’s no hardship to go back to it. People know me across Europe as Garry English. It’s back to sleeping on my massage couch in the showers at some velodrome.”
Despite the tinge of disappointment at the way the season has ended, he remained upbeat. “My father enrolled me in my cycling club the day I was born. I am not about to walk out on it.”