Rapha-Condor-Sharp team manager John Herety insists his team won’t get complacent despite their unbeaten start to this year’s Tour Series.
They go in to tonight’s fifth round in Stoke-on-Trent six points ahead of their nearest rivals having taken both the team and individual victories at the four previous races.
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Nonetheless, Herety believes it will be a fight to the finish.
“Is it game over yet? Not at all,” he told Cycling Weekly.
“Endura are still a big threat, and unless we’ve got a ten point lead going into the final round, we won’t be offering any handouts.”
With a perfect score of 40 points on the board, Herety believes that last year’s winners Motorpoint – who have half of Rapha’s tally – will struggle to retain their title.
He said: “It will be difficult for them to come back, and it would take a capitulation on our part for them to challenge for the victory.”
Despite plenty of individual victories and strong showings in the two previous runnings of the town-centre-based event, Rapha have failed to take the overall victory.
Unsurprisingly, this still plays on Herety’s mind.
“Criterium racing is always tense. There are plenty of thrills and spills to it, which is part of its attraction.
“We got a bit of luck in Colchester last week when we managed to avoid the big crash which delayed several riders, but we still remember races like Portsmouth last year, where everything that could go wrong in the final five laps did,” he admitted.
Herety shares a joke with Dean Downing, Graham Briggs and Ed Clancy in Peterborough
Because of the hour-long highlights package of the each round that is shown on ITV4, the series means a lot to the team’s three title sponsors.
Does this, combined with the failure to take overall victory in 2009 and 2010, add to the pressure on both him and riders?
“We all know the series is so important, so to some extent there’s the element of fear. No-one wants to let the team down.
“Everyone wants to ride the races, so we have to keep the balance right and sometimes some of the riders have to step back,” he continued.
“People thought I had gone mad when I told them that Kristian (House) wouldn’t be riding the third round in Peterborough, as statistically he’s one of the most consistent scorers.
“But this is our busiest period of the year, and when we came to selecting our riders for 2011 we thought long and hard about who could contribute positively to the team.”
Herety has changed the line-up for tonight’s race, with Dean Windsor replacing Andy Tennant.
“Tonight’s team is probably our best line-up for criteriums, and they’re the guys who will compete the final four rounds.”