Dave Rayner Interview by Kenny Pryde

March 06, 2020 6 min read

Dave Rayner Interview by Kenny Pryde

We have a wonderful collection of archive magazines, books, videos, DVDs and assorted memorabilia that unfortunately rarely gets seen - apart from the odd occasion like the Rouleur Classic.

So when we came across this article in Winning Magazine during the course of some retro cycling jersey research - we contacted Kenny Pryde - seeking permission to reproduce the interview on our blog to enable a wider audience to read it who very kindly agreed.

As this week marks what would have been Dave Rayner's 53rd birthday,  we hope that you will enjoy both Dave and Kenny's words that reflect on Rayner's move to Jan Raas' Buckler team.

 

 

 

Dave Rayner pulled off a personal coup when he signed for Buckler during the Kellogg's Tour. For by doing so he became the first home-based rider to win a contract abroad since Malcolm Elliott, Joey McLoughlin and Adrian Timmis made the giant leap in 1987.

There is only one man in professional cycling with legs as slender as Dave Rayner, and that particular pair have propelled Fabio Parra into cycling's upper echelons.

There is no doubt that 23-year-old Rayner would be delighted if his own Continental career followed the same trajectory as the Colombian's.

Coincidentally, it was his performance in the early season Tour of Murcia, where he out-climbed Parra, that first brought him to the attention of Jan Raas, the Buckler manager. Since that point, Rayner and manager Keith Lambert knew that Rayner's departure from Banana/Falcon was simply a matter of time.

For Rayner, the move to one of the biggest teams in the sport is the final step on a ladder which bridges the gap from Yorkshire amateurism to consummate professionalism.

Having learned the ropes and nurtured his ambition in Britain then in Italy during 1985 and 1986, ("The ideal place for a young rider to go") he progressed rapidly through the ranks, winning the British junior road race after a solo break in 1985 and turned pro two years later after finding that rule changes in Italy prevented his return there as an amateur.

It was thanks to the maverick personality of Tony Capper that Rayner finally turned pro, part of the ephemeral Interrent team that lasted from July to the end of the 1987 season.

The Interrent team, comprised of Stuart Coles and Rayner, like the ANC squad, discovered that Capper didn't have a bank account that matched his girth, and both teams folded amid much acrimony.

Rayner, who had won the best young rider's jersey in the Milk Race that year, didn't have to wait too long in contractless limbo before he was taken on by Paul Sherwen for the Raleigh Banana team in 1988.

When Raleigh pulled out at the end of the 1989 season, Rayner moved to Keith Lambert's Banana/Falcon team for 1990.

 

 

On the bike, his career progress has been steady which is a confirmation of a talent one is tempted to describe as natural. The contractual uncertainties that have plagued Rayner and his contemporaries (Adrian Timmis, Johnny Clay) could have done nothing for the confidence, but it is a tribute to his tenacity and single-mindedness that he persevered, even in the weeks after the dissolution of Raleigh/Banana where things looked bleak.

"There were three months where I thought, `This is it. I'm not going to get a contract for 1990.' At the time when Keith [Lambert] contacted me, I was in two minds whether or not to go to America and see if I could get something there..."

Thankfully, Rayner was not lost to Europe but instead has enjoyed one his best years with numerous sound performances and a number of victories in the Scottish Provident and McEwans criteriums.

It is not, however, for his qualities as a city centre rider that Raas has engaged him for next season. Having finished seventh overall, second in the King of the Mountains, first in the Combine jersey, fourth in the Points and fourth on three stages in the Tour of Murcia, Raas decided that the young Englishman still had time to develop, preferably in a Buckler team that has been decidedly short of climbers since its inception.

Raas has also signed Up Patrick Robeet from Weinmann and new professional Martin Kokkelkoren with hilly stage races in mind including, of course, the hilliest stage race of all, the Tour de France.

Rayner is quick to identify the part that luck played in bringing about his departure for foreign fields next season. The happy coincidence of Rayner having the form of his life in March and Raas being present to witness his exploits have provided the Keighley rider with a chance he was beginning to think would never come.

"I've always really wanted to be a pro on the Continent, but until this year it looked like I was going to fall by the wayside. But it's just one of those things. You get a lucky break, and I'm going to take it. If I don't take it now, I'll regret it for the rest of my life."

Which, it has to be said, would have been a long time, since, as he is at pains to point out, he is younger than most people imagine and has his best years in front of him.

"People think I'm 26 years old because I've been around for so long, but I'm only 23. Hopefully, if I don't have any injuries, I can still progress. I would like to do a good ride in the Tour one day. Depending on the way I ride in the early season, you never know, I might be riding the Tour next year."

Bizarrely enough, given the horror stories concerning the difficulties of this race, the prospect of being pitched into the Tour doesn't seem to bother Rayner.

Though he would be reluctant to admit the extent of his personal ambitions in La Grande Boucle, the thought of the Tour de France brings a gleam of anticipation to his eyes.

For all that the British professional scene is unstable and is somewhat lacking in glamour, the choice to quit Yorkshire for Limburg was not an easy one.

For an established English professional like Rayner, the life is comfortable, the racing is "not too hard, there are plenty of criteriums where the money is quite good, and you can live at home with your wife or girlfriend which is the most important thing. It's basically an easier life."

While the level of the competition is higher abroad, a fact Rayner is happy to acknowledge, the ability to tough it out mentally is a crucial factor in the equation which he took into consideration before making his decision. As Rayner puts it, "your head's got to be right" otherwise a few moderate performances could be enough to send you scurrying back home to dear old Blighty with sad memories and a dented reputation.

The name of Adrian Timmis is cited here as an example of someone who undoubtedly had the talent but neither the luck nor the team to be given a second bite at the European cherry.

Timmis' choice of a French team was no doubt a contributory factor in his partial eclipse, given that the French can be a little chauvinistic and don't always take too kindly to interlopers. Consider the number of foreign pros in France as opposed to Holland — which is precisely where Rayner will find himself next year, having heard that they are a far easier going crew.

"I hope so anyway," laughed Rayner.

 

Dave Rayner (Buckley Team) taking part in the 1992 Leeds Classic.
Dave Rayner (Buckler Team) taking part in the 1992 Leeds Classic. Photograph was taken by Pryde who was on the back of Jonny Clay's motorbike and earned a reprimand from race organiser Alan Rushton as said moto wasn't a Kawasaki who were a race sponsor.

 

 

The Rayner Foundation (formerly known as the Dave Rayner Fund) provides support to young cyclists as they begin their cycling careers and over the years Prendas Ciclismo has donated in excess of £26,500 thanks to sales of Raleigh Banana and Rocket Espresso clothing. 

If you want to find out more about their excellent work, their website is a great start or sit back and watch this interview that took place at the Rouleur Classic.

 

 

Kenny Pryde has been writing about cycling since 1987 and he's still at it in 2020.

The Medal Factory is his just-published book telling how an amateur cycling federation was transformed by money and a group of visionaries before almost being destroyed in 2016. How did it happen? And were British Cycling and Team Sky really the dysfunctional basket cases they were painted as?'

Published by Pursuit Books in hardback and ebook.



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