The UK professional scene is not all about Team Sky, as several British UCI continental squads have been launched in the past week, including Team Raleigh, Sigma Sport-Specialized and Motorpoint.
Team Raleigh was launched on Monday in Nottingham. Although it’s a relatively new kid on the block, it contains a youthful but talented bunch of riders. Their average age is just 22, but with ex-Cervelo rider Dan Fleeman as captain, we can expect some good results from them this season.
27-year-old Fleeman rode for Cervelo TestTeam last year, but suffered a hand injury early on which ruined his season. He did return late in the year to ride the Tour of Lombardy, where he was the only British finisher, before going on to win the UK national hill climb championships. His one-year contract with Cervelo wasn’t renewed, but that will be a boon to Team Raleigh who can count on his expertise and experience to lead them.
Tom Barras, son of the famous Sid Barras (380 wins, rode for TI Raleigh in 1974), has had plenty of experience and some wins too. He will act as lieutenant for Fleeman, keeping the youngsters hungry and in check.
Dan Fleeman in the Raleigh kit
Many of the other members of the squad will be familiar faces on the UK scene. Dale Appleby, formerly of Recycling and then VC Seano One, is a strong climber with all-round skills and Liam Holohan comes from the Rapha Condor stable.
There is skill through the ranks with Richard Handley, a talented TT rider, still only 19 but with a great future, having been plucked from Kinesis along with James Stuart. Team manager Chris Truett knows talent when he sees it.
The two overseas riders come with plenty of provenance; Julian Rammler from the Aqua & Sapone U23 team and the experienced Peter Smith from the Australian scene.
Team Raleigh is committed to the Premier Calendar races but thanks to its continental licence, already has offers to race in Europe and in the US.
It remains to be seen how the team performs, but there is plenty of confidence among the riders, management and at Raleigh HQ. We’ll know more after their training camp in Majorca and at the Eddy Soens race at Aintree on 6 March.
Team roster: Dan Fleeman, Dale Appleby, Tom Barras, Mike Cumings, Richard Handley, Liam Holohan, Daniel Shand, Julian Rammler, Peter Smith, Chris Truett (manager).
Sigma Sport-Specialized is a well established team on the UK domestic scene, but this year has taken the step up to UCI continental status, which gives it more options abroad.
The team has been very successful in the UK, and includes national and Olympic champions, grand tour riders and plenty of younger riders with talent and potential.
Their program this year will include the Premier Calendar road series, Tour Series (criteriums), national championships, Irish RAS and several UCI one-day and stage races, starting with Paris-Troyes on 14 March.
The team is sponsored by London road and triathlon shop Sigma Sport and one of the world’s top cycling companies, Specialized.
Team roster: Matt Stephens (rider/manager), Simon Richardson, Tom Murray, Stephen Adams, Kit Gilham, Wouter Sybrandy, Tom Last, Gareth Montgomerie, James Williamson, Dan Duguid (rider/technical advisor/press), Tom Snape, Peter Hey (assistant manager), Bob Rouse (mechanic), Samantha Jones and James Duguid (soigneurs), and James Booth (Specialized technical advisor).
Car supermarket Motorpoint is another new sponsor on the UK scene. With ex-rider Phil Griffiths at the management helm, the squad boasts a solid line-up.
Motorpoint is led by Ed Clancy, a member of the 2008 Olympic team pursuit squad that won gold in Beijing. Joining Clancy will be fellow GB team pursuiter Andy Tennant, together with evergreen Malcolm Elliott, Ian Bibby, Andrew Roche and Steven Burke. Former Halfords Bikehut team manager Keith Lambert will serve as directeur sportif.
The nine-strong team will be riding the new Super Leonardo from Opera, a subsidiary of Italian bike manufacturer Pinarello. They will compete in all of the premier UK cycling events, including the British Premier Calendar, Tour Series and the Tours of Britain and Ireland.
Team roster: Ian Bibby, Steve Burke, Ed Clancy, Lee Davis, Malcolm Elliott, Jonathan McEvoy, Andrew Roche, James Sampson, Andy Tennant.