Sports Beans team launch

The new Sport Beans Willier team, led by former Olympian and Commonwealth Games medallist Ben Luckwell, were flying high at their launch last Friday, when they completed two laps (or revolutions) of the London Eye!

But can they fly high in the Premier road race series this year. That?s their priority for the season, and the attraction for their main sponsors, Jelly Belly Sport Beans of America.

The team and guests filled two pods for an hour?s sightseeing trip on the big wheel, high above the Capital. The party included Sport Beans company president Robert Simpson who is eagerly looking forward to their first race this weekend, the season-opening Perfs Pedal in Hampshire.

Grant Bayton, Poland?s Marcin Bialoblocki and Marc Perry are entered, and Dave Coulson may sign on on the line.

Rider-manager is Ben Luckwell, 41, a star of the 1990s when he was one of the top home pros. Luckwell won three stages of the Milk Race Tour of Britain, and the sprints jersey in the Kellogg?s Tour of Britain.

He had a few years out of the sport and became Manx TT enthusiast ? spectator not rider he freely admits. He?s now a veterans? champion and like rival Malcolm Elliott, another elder statesman of the sport, is still hungry for wins.

?We have put together a dynamic combination of experienced riders and up-and-coming names to watch,? said Luckwell. ?Our aim in the first year is quite simply to be highly competitive in the Premier Calendar Series.?

Bayton, who once rode full time for the Italian pro outfit Amore e Vita, said the premiers take about an hour longer than other UK events. So for him with a full time job at WH Smiths, it's been a challenge to get extra training done. ?We?re ready and keen to have a go,? he said.

Jelly Beans Boss Simpson said: ?This is the first time we have committed to this scale of sports sponsorship in the United Kingdom. We are looking forward to following the team?s progress.?

The full team is: Ben Luckwell, Grant Bayton, Marcin Bialoblocki, Dave Coulson, Marc Perry, Mark Thwaites and Gary Smith.

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Keith Bingham joined the Cycling Weekly team in the summer of 1971, and retired in 2011. During his time, he covered numerous Tours de France, Milk Races and everything in-between. He was well known for his long-running 'Bikewatch' column, and played a pivotal role in fighting for the future of once at-threat cycling venues such as Hog Hill and Herne Hill Velodrome.