Youthfulness and a common bond can propel Bike Channel-Canyon to success in 2017 and beyond, claims their marquee signing Chris Opie.
Opie, who is leaving One Pro Cycling after two years, joined the new British UCI Continental outfit after being impressed by the team’s long-term plans, as well as having the option to work with Tim Elverson, the team’s sports director.
At the team’s first gathering in November, Opie – the team’s primary sprinter – was struck by the camaraderie, with many of the riders having transferred from the soon-to-be defunct Pedal Heaven team.
“It was the easiest day one of any team get-together I have ever been around. It was really easy,” the 29-year-old, who has previously also ridden for UK Youth and Rapha Condor JLT, told Cycling Weekly.
“No one has a large ego, no one is shy, and at the same time everyone was polite, respectful, good fun but straight away happy to lay into each other without holding back, which was entertaining.
“I know a lot were teammates this year and that helps but I have never seen a group gel so quickly. It was genuinely the smoothest first day I have ever been at.
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“There’s a lot of young riders who are very ambitious and they haven’t been let down by cycling [in the past] and that helps. They can’t wait to get stuck in.
“Sometimes when you are in a team with more older riders, the edge has been taken off, whereas now no one has had any bad experiences with cycling. That can only help.”
In Opie’s final race for One Pro – an experience which he calls “hugely beneficial. I rode races that as a young cyclist you grow up dreaming of” – he took victory on stage two and the overall general classification at the Dutch race Ronde van Midden Nederland.
Replicating that success at Bike Channel-Canyon is what he was recruited for, and he says that he relishes expectations and having riders work solely for him, in the hope of success.
He added: “I don’t mind carrying that expectation; that is what gives you the motivation to do well. The race in Holland, it took place where I used to live and everyone knew I wanted to win and that I was favourite.
“For some, that might have got to them, but I enjoyed being in that position where there is a lot of energy directed towards me and where you are expected to perform at the end of it. That’s quite special.”
Success in mainland Europe is what Opie will be targeting again in 2017 and beyond. “I am massively motivated to do a lot of the European races that have been talked about,” he said. “Races suit me better in Europe.
“In the UK, races don’t have a style, they’re just hard. Over there, there’s a good rhythm, a good style that suits me. That’s where I see myself performing really well.