One Pro Cycling made their racing debut last weekend with a commanding performance at the Perfs Pedal Race, taking all three podium spots and with all but one of their riders finishing in the top 10.
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Team owner Matt Prior was in attendance at the Hampshire race, which is now a traditional opener to the domestic racing season, to see his team make it’s first move into racing. And while the England international cricketer was pleased with his team’s performance which saw Yanto Barker take the victory, he realises it’s a small step on the way to long-term success.
“It’s fantastic to get 1-4 [finishing places in the race], but more importantly I think the guys will learn a huge amount,” Prior told Cycling Weekly. “It’s a new team, we’ve spent a lot of time together for the last 10 days in Mallorca, trying to get tight as a unit, getting to know each other better and this is the first step in a long run.”
Prior, who has made over 75 Test appearances for England, has used cycling to help his rehabilitation from a long-term Achilles injury. While he remains passionate about the sport and being as pro-active with his new UCI Continental team as much as his time allows, he admits that he might have to leave the racing strategy to the experts.
“Anything I put my name to I want to make sure it’s done in the right way and the best way possible,” said Prior.
“But of course when it comes to the racing and the tactics and everything else, I don’t know how to win a bike race. I want to be as hands on as possible, with things like the team and the brand and creating what we want to do at One Pro Cycling. It’s a passion of mine and I will live and breathe this as much as any one of the riders or anyone else.”
Despite One making their racing debut at Perfs, there was no new kit on show, riding in an all black Le Col kit, with the team waiting until the official presentation on February 17 to reveal what the riders will be wearing during 2015.
Chris Opie, who finished second on the day, was riding on a team Cervélo S5 equipped with Shimano Dura Ace Di2, which will be the team bike for the coming season.
With all the secrecy surrounding the team since it was intially announced back in late 2014, Prior says that it has become slightly exasperating to not be able to reveal any details about the team.
“It’s been a long time coming and I suppose the last couple of weeks it’s almost been frustrating that we haven’t been able to say more,” Prior said.
“I can’t give anything away unfortunately, but I think we’re all happy with the [new] kit. Most importantly I think the lads are happy with the kit, they’re the guys that have to wear it and go out and race.”
The aesthetics of the kit is however, just a small part of a bigger aim to get the best out of the 12 strong group of riders says Prior, a group which sports no less than five former UK Youth riders including Barker and Opie, as well as Jon Mould, Josh Hunt and Marcin Bialoblocki.
The South African-born cricketer is also keen to use his experience as a professional sportsman to help create that environment, emphasising that the unpredictability of sport demands the best facilities he can provide in order for him and the coaches to get the most out of the riders.
“We want to build an environment that gives these guys the best opportunity to perform in and get their full potential out,” he said.
“Sport at the end of the day is sport – anything can happen. For instance, a race like today, you are never guaranteed wins or anything and that’s one thing I know better than most. Anything can happen.
“All we want is to create the best environment to allow this team and this group of riders, which we believe is a very strong group of riders, to reach their full potential. If we can do that, then that’s fantastic.”