Riding for One Pro Cycling has given its British contingent a new lease of life, with them all determined to prove that they belong alongside the world’s best, says Pete Williams.
Williams, 29, rode the Dubai Tour for the outfit earlier this month where One collected three top-10 stage finishes (two for Chris Opie and one for Yanto Barker) to go with close-season recruit Barker’s victory in the New Zealand Cycle Classic in January.
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The team’s foreign-flavoured calendar is somewhat different to the British-centric program that many of its riders have dedicated their seasons to during their career.
“It’s almost like starting again because all the races are new,” Williams, who won the King of the Mountains jersey at the 2015 Aviva Tour of Britain, told Cycling Weekly.
“We’ve all got renewed motivation. We all feel 18-year-old again so it’s quite exciting and everyone’s motivated. It’s an exciting place to be.”
The race distances and racing style are the biggest differences that Williams has noticed, but he insists that Matt Prior’s team have intentions of winning their own races – rather than just featuring in them – throughout 2016.
He continued: “We race at this level at the Tour of Britain against these guys. But this is early in the year and we’re not used to racing these distances [in February; stage two in Dubai was 183km]. But we changed our training slightly from previous years to be able to cope with that.
“In the UK you don’t really get the bunch sprint so it’s getting used to that and helping out the sprinters.
“Our aim is to have a presence at races – not just to make up the numbers -show ourselves and to get stuck in. There will be opportunities where if a finish suits, we’ll maybe target things a bit more specifically but that will become clearer throughout the year.”
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Prior has long since stated that his ambition is for One to join Team Sky as Britain’s second WorldTour outfit. That type of talk serves as an additional incentive for Williams et al.
“Matt Prior and Simon Chappell, the guy behind it all, are both really ambitious, motivated to do well and to be a successful team,” the Southport-born rider added.
“We’re just concentrating on this year at the minute. We knew at the start of the project last year that the ambition is to go there (WorldTour) but it’s up to us riders to perform and to be able to be part of that journey. It’s not a given right that we’re going to be there next year.”