Britain's Rob Hayles is racing into what may be his final year as a professional. He aims to help Endura Racing's young talent and its push for a second division licence.
"Our team is getting big now, we have a dual programme," said Hayles. "We have at least six continental races that clash with British races. We also have about six riders living abroad."
Hayles joined the team last year and worked as a cyclist and team manager. The dual role became too much and forced Hayles to focus only on racing, which he has been doing for over 15 years. At the 2004 Olympics, he helped Great Britain win a silver medal in the team pursuit and a bronze medal in the Madison.
"When I signed for the team, it was a domestic team, with perhaps one or two international races. But it just snowballed and I was struggling with all the e-mails and phone calls for the team," added Hayles.
"This year, I want to be a cyclist, but anything I can do to help out along the way, that's cool. When we get to the Premier Calendar, my role will change to the leader."
Hayles is keeping an eye on some of Endura's youngsters, like Scott Thwaites, Maarten De Jonge and Ian Wilkinson. Hayles just returned from racing the Tour de Mumbai in India, where Wilkinson finished fifth in the first stage and fourth in the second.
"I want to have a better season than last year. I did not win a race last year, which is probably the first year ever. My ambitions are for the team, to ride for them. What disappointed me last year was when the plan didn't work and the team didn't win."
With Hayles' help, the team may earn a spot in the second division for next season. He said it will depend on how Endura wants to market its sportswear.
"It's the natural progressing, but if we were to go Pro Continental then we are restricted on the national calendar and the budget more than doubles," said Hayles.
"I know the UK is covered for Endura. They are looking at France, Germany and a little bit of Eastern Europe, so it would make sense. What I can say, the team is business driven, if it does not make sense, then Jim [McFarlane, managing director] will not do it. If it makes sense business-wise to go fully European, then I suspect he will."
Hayles may take on a full time managerial role next season, or something completely different. He admitted his time as a professional cyclist is near its end.
"If an opportunity came up now, I'd be silly to turn it down," Hayles continued.
"The last time I had a nine-to-five job was February 16, 1992. I was a tech assistant for a brewery, servicing all the pubs. It was cool, but I'd go mad with a nine-to-five job now. I would consider coaching or being a sports director with Endura."
Rob Hayles: Rider Profile
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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