John Herety has won a Peace Race stage, French amateur classics, the British pro road champs and was robbed of the GP Pino Cerami — the judges gave it to local hero Rony van Holen — but photos later showed that the Englishman’s wheel was first across the line.
Now he’s passing all that experience on to a new generation through his role as team manager of London squad Rapha-Condor Recycling, who are north of the border to recce the hills, gravel, rain, wind farms and sheep that are — Girvan.
The guys are riding the Musselburgh 3-Up, John?
“It’s a good skill to have, roadmen used to ride a lot of them back in the ‘good old days,’ there was nothing on in England and we were coming up to do our Girvan recce, so we just thought we’d ride.”
Team morale must be good after the Bikeline win?
“Yes, very good but there will be no complacency, we’re expected to be the best team, we were on the training camp then started racing early, so we have a little advantage, but the other teams will catch us up, so we’re taking nothing for granted.”
Dean is going well, isn’t he?
“Interestingly, despite all the years he’s raced and been a big name on the UK scene, that’s the first time he’s ever had a team at his disposal like that.
“He was very nervous about the responsibility and he learned a lot about handling pressure.”
Girvan, it must be a big deal, here you are a week before the start.
“I did this last year, we came up a week early to get to know the roads, there’s obviously the training aspect, but if you know that the top is ‘just round the next corner’ then you can dig a bit deeper and hang on.
“The squad is predominantly the same as last year, but it does no harm to remind the guys of what to expect. It’s going to be a hard race to win; we’re the team to beat at the moment, so I expect we’ll get other teams collaborating against us — that’s bike racing, though! “Girvan is a different race from the Bikeline, there’s no opening time trial, but there are time bonuses — the race is won and lost on the bonuses.
“We can’t leave it to those bonuses because there are some quick guys — like Evan (Oliphant of PCA) and Wilko (’07 Girvan winner, Andy Wilkinson of Science in Sport — Trek) who are liable to grab them. Wilko is probably the favourite; but I know that Evan is also very motivated to win, he’s a big threat.”
What about the Rapha v. PCA rivalry?
“We’re both trying to encourage it! It gets us more column inches, but we want to keep it friendly, the British cycling scene is too small to have grudge matches going on, but provided it’s light hearted I don’t think it’s a problem. I think some of the internet forums have been getting a bit heated about which is the best team, though!”
It’s 26 years since you turned pro — how do you remain so enthusiastic?
“I love it; it’s a lot better than working for a living! My career as a pro was cut short by illness, so it wasn’t like I’d ‘had enough of it’ when I stopped racing.
“I wouldn’t want to manage at any higher level than this, but it would be nice to have a little more money in the budget. I’m quite happy that we’re a ‘feeder team’ for riders to move on to greater things from.”
Rapha/PCA/Pinarello/SIS/Halfords — the UK scene is getting better isn’t it; could it be like the 80’s again, with city centre races?
“The last three or four years have certainly seen the racing improve, it’s mainly the same guys winning, but in better organised teams. That’s one of the pleasures of the job, teaching young riders how to race properly, you see riders who have never won a Premier Calendar race going up the road from the gun — I don’t know what they are trying to achieve.
“The racing here is getting more like continental racing with the race-winning move generally being made late in the race. As for the future, it’s getting more difficult with the police (witness the demise of the Archer Grand Prix) and I think that place to place racing will be very hard to organise.
“City centre racing will be harder to organise these days too with the increasing move towards pedestrian precincts; although the Smithfield nocturne is proving to be a big success. I think the future is liable to be along Belgian lines, with kermesse type racing and rapport built with local communities.”
Why is ‘Rapha’ the dominant sponsor?
“If you look on the back of the jersey, you’ll see a little logo that says ‘recyclinglives’ — this is a new initiative that Recycling are involved in: there are going to be 10 or 12 centres around the country where people can go and get their lives back on track — people who have maybe left the forces, but with nowhere to live or a plan for the future.
“They can live at one of these centres and work there too — recycling televisions, computers and the like. This is a big project and it’s moving very quickly because a politician was impressed by the scheme and has embraced it. With all this on the go, Recycling have eased back on their involvement, but they hope to be back in a bigger way, next year.”
How’s Chris Newton after his crash?
“He had a titanium plate fitted to the collar bone at Sheffield Hallam University on Tuesday and he’s hoping to be back on the turbo in five or six days, maybe racing in four weeks.”
ASO v. UCI?
“Having lived in France, I’d like to see the UCI win! The Tour has become so big and ASO so strong, but you can’t have a race organiser dictating to the sport’s governing body. It’s no surprise to see French politicians involved on the side of ASO, the revenue that the Tour brings into France is phenomenal and they won’t want to see that jeopardised.
“The thing is though, that the Tour is the best race in the world, really only the Americans can challenge that dominance, if you look at the way the Tours of California and Georgia have grown it’s very impressive. The teams stay in these wonderful hotels and the word goes round that it’s a good race, so the riders forget their usual reluctance to travel across time zones.
“I’m not saying that the UCI will come out on top, but I hope they do.”
VeloVeritas would like to thank John for his time and wish him and the squad all the best for Girvan.
[And anyway, Rony van Holen’s haircuts were always the worst, John!]
Musselburgh 3-up Team Time Trial Result
As mentioned in John’s interview, he fielded 4 teams in yesterday’s Musselburgh RCC 3-Up 28.4-mile time trial in East Lothian, which had a start sheet boasting 30 teams.
3 of the Rapha teams finished in the top 4, with first going to Dale Appleby, Kristian House and Rob Partridge, who won the event with 1-03-52.
However, they were nearly upset by the PedalPower team of Gary Hand, Gordon Murdoch and Scott McRae, who were only 25 seconds away from taking the top spot.
Dean Downing led his 2 team-mates Rhys Lloyd and Ryan Bonser to third place, while fourth place was taken by Tom Diggle, Simon Holt and Graham Briggs.
John’s teams used their road bikes for the 3-up, as there isn’t a time trial at the Girvan next weekend, whilst most of the local teams taking part were competing on their TT bikes, and today John takes his teams over to the West coast to recce the first stage of the Girvan.
- Rapha Condor/Recycling.co.uk
Rob Partridge, Kristian House, Dale Appleby
- Pedal Power RT
Gordon Murdoch, Gary Hand, Scott MaCrae
- Rapha Condor/Recycling.co.uk
Dean Downing, Rhys Lloyd, Ryan Bonser
- Rapha Condor/Recycling.co.uk
Tom Diggle, Graham Briggs, Simon Holt