Rapha-Condor’s manager John Herety has signed Simon Richardson from Plowman Craven and Tom Southam from Halfords Bikehut.

Herety said he has not finished strengthening his team for 2009, and has his eye on as many as three other riders.

Richardson, 25, has only been racing on the road for the past season-and-a-half. The former World Class Performance Plan mountain biker joined Plowman Craven in the summer of 2007.

His first full season on the road was a success. He won a stage of the Ras in Ireland, and held the yellow jersey for a day. And he was third in four Premier Calendar events ? the Girvan stage race, the Tour of the Reservoir, the Lincoln Grand Prix and the Richmond Grand Prix.

Richardson said: “I was looking for a beefed up team, I still need to learn an awful lot. It?s no secret I am a bit naïve when it comes to racing.

“It?s been fantastic with Plowman Craven but the chance to work with John is an excellent opportunity.

“I had heard John was interested but it wasn?t until after the Tour of Britain that we talked. When I was a mountain biker on the World Class squad, John was running the Academy squad and I did a little bit on the road.

“I?ve been third in four Premier Calendar race, and I am generally happy with my season, but not to come away with a win is a little disappointing considering the positions I got myself into.

“The thing is, a lot of the time I was beaten by Russell in an uphill sprint, and it?s not easy to beat him in an uphill sprint. I just felt I was a little bit short of where I needed to be to actually win one.”

Herety has also added 27-year-old Southam, who raced for Halfords Bikehut this year. Rapha had hoped to sign Rob Hayles from Halfords but he opted to stay put. Ed Clancy was another who Herety wanted, but he too will race for Halfords in 2009.

Southam, who has flown to Australia for the winter, returned to British racing at the start of the season after a couple of years Down Under.

Herety said: “We wanted to strengthen the team. Rapha and Condor want to maximise sales overseas so we need to be able to compete abroad while remaining strong at home.

“Simon has great potential. I’ve known him a number of years, in fact it was me who put him on to Plowman Craven when he wanted to race on the road. I would have taken him then but we didn’t have a place or the budget for him.

“It’s no secret I rate him highly. I think he’s got great potential. We haven’t seen the start of what he can do on the road yet.”

Four years ago Southam’s decision to defy Great Britain team orders and ride on the front of the bunch for the Italians in the World Championships in Madrid cost Herety his job as national road coach.

Herety, though, bears no grudge and is pleased to see a happier, more stable Southam compared to the rider who eventually became disillusioned with the professional scene.

He said: “As for Tom, I’d hoped to get Rob and Ed too but it wasn’t to be. Tom will fit right in with the Rapha image. He’s a great team rider, he was influential in a lot of Rob’s big wins this season.

“That [the Madrid Worlds] wasn’t a great day, but Tom has learned from it. What happened there contributed to him giving up professional cycling. He went to Italy full of hopes and dreams and I think what he saw there shocked him a little bit and he didn’t want to be part of some of the things he saw.

“He went to Australia and he fell in love with cycling again. I think he’s a capable rider. Rob can’t speak highly enough of him. Tom’s done one season in the UK, now he wants to see what he can do at a slightly higher level and we will give him a chance in international stage races to show what he can do.”

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