The Sport Beans-Wilier team have been taking the fight to the big boys of the domestic road racing scene this season. Despite a small budget they have performed beyond most people?s expectations. Senior rider Grant Bayton tells us more.
Sport Beans-Wilier was a new team this season. How have things gone so far?
Things have gone really well. All the lads are riding well together, and for such a new team we?ve surprised plenty of people. There are a few things we will change for next year, but we?re happy and so are the sponsors.
How did the team come together?
The manager, Ben Luckwell, was approached by Sport Beans to start a team. They wanted to raise their profile and saw a cycling team as a good way to do that. Ben has a lot of contacts and experience, so the team came together really well. I?ve known him for a few years now and I love riding with him.
You?ve had a few good performances in the Premier Calendar events.
Yeah, but we?re struggling at the moment to compete against the top teams ? as I think a lot of teams are. We just can?t compete with their budgets. A lot of our riders are based in the south, whereas a lot of the Premier Calendar races are in the north. Once we?ve got up there and booked into a hotel it can end up being expensive, so we can?t do it every week.
Your Polish rider, Marcin Bialoblocki, has done quite well for you, hasn?t he?
Marcin has been a real find for us. He?s consistent and, as well as winning several races, he has had some good places in Premier Calendar events, with fifth at the Chas Messenger Two-Day, Beaumont Trophy and East Yorkshire Classic. Hopefully we can keep hold of him for next year and build the team around him.
What is the race that you like the most?
I love the Tour of Flanders, because it?s such a hard race. When Alessandro Ballan won it a couple of years ago we were over there watching, and had met him the previous day, so it sticks in my mind. I would?ve loved to have ridden that race!
You rode professionally on the Continent yourself for a while, didn?t you?
I was with Amore e Vita for a couple of years which was a great experience. But then as usual the politics and finance took over and it all ended. But I rode some great races in Italy against people like Museeuw and Pantani, which was amazing. And in races like the Tour of Poland it was great to see a different country.
You obviously like your cycling. But are there any sports you don?t like?
I can?t stand cricket.
What do you drive?
I?ve got a VW Golf, which is great. It gets me to races, and a lot of people are surprised when I tell them it can hold a couple of bikes and two pairs of wheels in the back.
If you were prime minister for a day, what would you do?
I would get more people using cycleways, like they do in Holland. In this country it seems like you?re always fighting against idiots in cars.