Issue 40 - Team Launch
by Mick Tarrant
Late February and one of the milder days of this harsh winter, a watery sun does nothing to dispel the feel of "out of season seaside resort" but what's this.....signs of life at Bournemouth's Collingwood Hotel.
Mick with the Santini Italian-made Wilier/BigMaggys/Prendas jersey. (Photo: Nick Watson.)
Bikes, bike riders, sponsors and members of the press gather to witness the launch of Wilier/Big Maggys.com/Prendas Ciclismo (rolls off the tongue eh?) UK "pro-team". Those of you who follow the UK racing scene will be aware that this team was formerly "Sport Beans"
Last season, despite a much lesser budget and fewer riders than the "big boys" of Halfords, Pinarello, Rapha/Condor et al, they distinguished themselves with a number of good results including Marcin Bialoblocki's win in the biggest Premier Calendar race of the year, The Girvan 3 day.
They placed sixth in the Tour Series, only one point adrift of 5th without the services for most part of Marcin and team captain Ben Luckwell. The team finished 4th in the National rankings with Marcin in 3rd. There were numerous placings in National events which included Billy J Whenman's win in the London Grand Prix in Westminster and Will Bergfelt's victory in the long standing season opener "Perf's Pedal" race. Mark Perry was victorous in the Southern Division RR Champs, a deserved result for Mark's consistency throughout more than a decade of top level amateur racing.
Martin McCrossan commenced proceedings interviewing each rider individually, commencing with Ben Luckwell. Ben is well known to all with more than a passing interest in UK racing who was a major player in the burgeoning UK pro scene in the 80's and has been a consistent rider at the top level ever since.
Ben is opting for rider/manager role this year and there is nobody in the UK peloton more experienced (with the exception of Malcolm Elliott). Ben outlined the goals for the team for the season and their intention to support Marcin in his bid for the Premier Calendar. With Russell Downing departed for the pro ranks, this seems a realistic prospect for the lanky Pole. Marcin recently returned from a Majorcan training camp racking up 35 hours in the opening week despite the unseasonal chill and rain.
Each rider seemed focused and totally undismayed by the team's rather unjust exclusion from this season's televised "Tour Series". There are plenty of other races and there was a thriving domestic scene pre the "Tour Series".
What was apparent was the fact that this was not just a collection of riders in a sponsored team but a tightly knit group who co-exist well, the nucleus having been together last season. A lot of the guys have been friends and sometimes rivals for many seasons and all are pledged to giving it max in order to raise the profile of themselves and their sponsors.
The title sponsors need no explanation, Wilier (Tristina) are of course the iconic Italian bike manufacturer who will once again provide top end "pro issue" bikes.
Big Maggys take their name from the legendary Magnus Backstedt, the powerhouse Swede and now adopted "Welshman". Magnus of course is a former "Paris-Roubaix" and Tour de France stage winner. Magnus has his own brand of coffee and heads up a new "concept" bike shop in Jersey which apart from being a well stocked and equipped bike shop that will also provide changing facilities and bike storage for commuting cyclists and a coffee shop.
Island residents Ian and Tony are the other partners in the venture along with Magnus and Martin. We wish them all good fortune and look forward to the short hop over for the opening party!
We at Prendas have at last committed to putting our name on a jersey after years of quiet investment in individual riders. We provided the team with socks, oversocks and undervests last year and were very pleased with the feedback and positive exposure.
Having known Ben, Mark and Grant over the years, we figured that we would up our involvement for 2010 and committed without other title sponsors being in place. It was a stroke of good fortune that it panned out so well for all concerned. Our role in the team is the provision of all the team clothing and accessories.
A big thanks is due to Santini Maglificio Sportivo and especially MD Monica Santini for her co-operation in this project. Although, SMS had finalised their team programme some months before our request, they bent the rules to design and manufacture the team clothing way ahead of what we thought humanely possible. Big thanks also to Elena at Santini and our own Andy for their expertise in the design department.
The team will lack nothing in the clothing department and are better provided for than some Continental Pro teams and even some of the UCI Pro Tour teams. You wouldn't believe how much "swag" each rider has, a dream come true for them.
As Grant Bayton remarked at the launch "I was out training the other day on the bike with the new kit and I felt like a proper pro!" Grant made good on this a short while later with a a win in his 1st race.
We at Prendas are delighted with the look of the team strip and are gratified to know that the global cycling world share our enthusiasm as we have already sold it into at least 12 other countries.
The team is also supported by numerous other sub sponsers to whom we owe a huge debt. LifeCare, Sunwise, Wellman, Schwalbe, Red Planet bikes, Hotel Collingwood, Spiuk, Sport Beans and Ride 24/7.
We all await the 2010 season with eager anticaption. Forza Ragazzi!