Here at VeloVeritas we: felt that those Endura Racing boys would be giving us plenty to write about in 2009, so we thought we’d better sit them down with them and have a few words.
As well as Jonathan McBain (owner of Pedal Power Cycles) and a lean and fit looking Gary Hand, a keen as mustard James McCallum was there too; so it turned into a lot of words! :
How’s the UCI approval going?
Jonathan: “All the fees are paid; funny thing is that before the fees were paid we were getting calls every day from British Cycling, but since they’ve had the money — not a cheep!”
James, why leave Plowman Craven to join Endura?
James: “It was a stressful team to be in, on the one hand I had Tony Gibb telling me everything was fine, but on the other I had the manager, Eddie White telling me; ‘it’s hard to find a place for you.’ Maybe I was getting complacent there; this situation is a good one, in at the start of a fresh team, helping to develop it.”
Has Scottish Cycling been supportive and what sort of reaction are you getting in general, from Scottish cyclists?
Gary: “Scottish Cycling is pretty much geared towards youth development, the money comes from Sports Scotland and they want to see youngsters being brought through. As for cyclists in general, the feedback has been good, positive; except for a guy — Scott CR1 — who keeps asking daft questions about us on the forums!”
Gary, you’ll have no problem holding your own in England, but what about the rest of the team?
Gary: “Each rider has a job to do, we’re not going down to put nine guys in the top 20, if we have one man on the podium and the rest don’t finish, then that that’s fine, the job’s done. But we’ve also strengthened the team — we have James, Duncan Urquhart, Dave Smith and Callum Wilkinson. We have a mix of experienced guys and riders on the way up, who we’ll be trying to point in the right direction.”
Talking of England, are drugs much of a problem south of the border, part of the gap in levels?
James: “Not a major problem, but I think we’re all blinded by the; ‘he’s a nice guy, he wouldn’t do that!’ syndrome, so it’s hard to say.”
Maybe one or two of your riders, shall we say; ‘aren’t the world’s hardest trainers?’
Gary: “All of our riders have SRM or Powertap set-ups and they are all connected by ‘Training Peaks’ software to Mark Young’s central computer, he analyses what everyone is doing. And they all know that they’ll have to train harder than ever if we want to achieve our goal of riding the Tour of Britain.”
James: “A thing that I’ve been stressing to them is that we’re a Continental squad, not a club team anymore — the way you train, the way you race, the way you act, it all has to be different.”
: You must have been inundated with requests to join?
Jonathan: “We had quite a few, I even had an east European guy emailing me about joining; he was very keen; I think there are a lot of riders without contracts out there. One ‘well known Irish rider’ was very keen to join us: he even had his own frame sponsor.”
Who’s going to surprise us?
Gary: “I think that Dave Smith is due a big result, but the way we’re looking at it is to have specific targets with riders having a job to do.”
James, how to keep the ‘young uns’ feet on the ground, but not de-motivate them?
James: “If you’re sitting around a table with experienced riders who know what they are talking about, you either listen, or you’re stupid! There’s no one else in Scotland can give them what we’re giving them.”
Jonathan, what’s in it for you, from a business perspective?
Jonathan: “Not much! But it’s not about that, it’s a personal thing; I look at what we’ve done in one year and it’s phenomenal — to pull in a major sponsor such as Endura and be on the brink of being a Continental team.”
How’s the programme coming along?
Gary: “The Tour of Britain is a major target, we’ll be targeting the likes of the Sweet Spot crit series — they’re selection races for the T of B, we definitely need UK results. We’ve had lots of invites — from the Tour of Turkey for example, but until we get our status confirmed by the UCI we can’t firm these things up.”
The British calendar looks good on paper.
Gary: “The ten Sweet Spot crits will place a bit of a logistical strain on us, but we have to ride them if we’re serious about Tour of Britain selection. One good thing is that its teams of five, but you don’t have to have the same five riders in every race.”
Will you be riding all those crits, James?
James: “I want to win them!”
Word is that you could have won the British crit champs again this year?
James: “It was quite possible, I was away in a group and the fastest there, but Evan brought the bunch back up — ‘team orders’ for Tony Gibb.” (Gibb was eventually third, behind winner Dean Downing and Rob Hayles)
There’s a point to prove this year, then?
Your first ’08 race will be?
Gary: “Probably the first Super Six at Gifford, or maybe the Soens — they’re on the same day; then there’s the Bike Line two day.”
Girvan — a home winner?
Gary: “It’s our home race and the only Scottish leg of the Premier Calendar, so of course we want a result. We’ll be a bit ‘under the radar’ with all the big English teams battling it out — but it’s always the last day that counts. I had the King of the Mountains jersey until the last stage this year and it was disappointing to loose it, but I think that our best chance this year is with Duncan Urquhart, maybe not overall, but a stage is possible. On paper Plowman Craven will be strongest, but they don’t have a lot of friends in the bunch; that’s one thing I think we’ll have going for us – the Scottish riders won’t be riding against us.”
James: “And I want to win the crit!”
Goals for 2008?
Jonathan: “We want to get a ride in the Tour of Britain, if not 2008, then certainly 2009; we want James to get good results in the criteriums; we want on the podium at Premier Calendars and we want UCI points.”
James: “…and we all want to enjoy it, we’re all in it together, we want good morale in the squad, everyone getting on and riding for their own individual goal within the team.”
Gary: “We feel that we’re doing something for Scottish cycling, giving young riders and other teams something to aspire to.”
And that’s hard to argue with. Our thanks to Jonathan, Gary and James for their time and wishing Endura Racing ‘all the best’ for 2009.
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