It doesn’t seem like it but it was season 2017 when last we spoke to Ross Lamb, a David Rayner Fund man ‘doing good’ in The Flatlands.
Flanders gets under a man’s skin so we were surprised to hear he was moving to La Belle France – that said, times are tough with teams folding everywhere from the UK to Columbia and all points in between.
But that was our first question…
Why the move, Ross?
“It’s a pretty strange one, I was trying to sort out a team; my squad T.Palm–PCW, told us on October 1st that the team wouldn’t be continuing into 2019.
“That was disappointing because I’d been talking to teams but had turned opportunities down – and now the market is pretty difficult.
“But of the blue Ali Slater messaged me to tell that there was an opportunity with GSC Blagnac V.S. 31, they’re a French Division One team. I didn’t chose them, it’s just the way it turned out.”
What’s the Blagnac setup like?
“Apparently it’s one of the oldest clubs in France, founded in 1897, they’re very professional in approach with nice vehicles and good staff.
“Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner and Tour de France stage winner, Fred Moncassin and ex-French pro road and time trial champion, Nicolas Vogondyare among the management team.
“Sky DS and ex-pro, Nicolas Portal; former World u23 Champion and l’Avenir winner, Romain Sicard and Tour de France stage winner Blel Kadri all came up through their ranks.”
Is your accommodation sorted out?
“Yeah, there’s an apartment for us in a town south of Toulouse; I’ve ‘Google Earthed’it and it’s a house on an estate in a village pretty close to the Pyrenees.
“There’ll be a couple of other guys there too – British and Irish.”
How’s the programme looking?
“It’s not fully sorted but it’ll be races like the Tour de Normandie, Ronde de l’Oise and of course, all the Coupe de France races.
“One of the attractions for me is that I’ll be riding more stage races, there’s not so much opportunity for stage racing in Belgium.”
Wee bit of a difference in parcours between Flanders and France…
“There’ll be lots of opportunities for me to work on my climbing, you don’t get so many opportunities to climb in Belgium.
“It’s a bit of a risk for me but that said I was looking back on races I’ve done which had climbs in them I’ve performed well enough.
“In Belgium you learn how to handle your bike and you have to be able to sprint so improving my climbing will round me off as a rider.”
And you’ll have British and Irish team mates?
“Yes, Charlie Calvert, Harrison Jones, Elliot Redfern and Ben Walsh – that makes the transition easier, they’ve been over and know what’s what.
“I didn’t actually sign until recently so haven’t been over.”
You said it was Ali Slater who made the connection?
“Yes, we’d met earlier in the year and he must have seen that I was going to be without a team for 2019.
“He knew a French talent scout, a chap called Christophe Andre was looking for a team leader for a French team for next year.
“I train in the UK with Russ Downing and Russ was telling me good things about Christophe.”
How has 2018 been for you?
“I had a win in March but mid-season I crashed pretty badly and was out for a while but came back to win an Inter-club and got the jersey on TV quite a few times.
“Inter-clubs aren’t UCI [ranked] so folks in the UK maybe don’t rate them but they’re very hard races.”
We list some of Ross’s palmarès below;
- 3rd – Circuit de Wallonie 2018
- 3rd – Memorial Van Coningsloo 2017
- 6th – Grand Prix Albert Fauville 2018
- 1st – Memorial Stanny Verlooy – Aartselaar 2018
- 11th – Circuit de Wallonie 2017
- 2nd – Stan Ockers Classic 2018
- 13th – GP Stad Sint-Niklaas 2017
- 20th – GP Stad Zottegem 2018
- 2nd – Zandhoven 2017
Will you be a ‘Rayner Man’ again for 2019?
“I’ve applied again, yes and will find out soon.
“One of the things I like most about the Dave Rayner Fund, apart from the financial assistance, is when you arrive at a race and there’s another Rayner guy there it’s a nice bond that we have, you’re in a foreign land but there’s someone there in the same situation as you.
“And another nice aspect is the support you get on social media,you always get so many messages of support.”
What’s the Blagnac team bike?
“That’s a bit of an unusual one too; they’re ‘DRAG’ from Bulgaria – where they’re market leaders – the guy who founded the company back in 1989 was called Dragomir Kouzov, so that’s where the ‘DRAG’ came from.”
How has your winter been?
“I usually take off around two weeks but this year it was a little longer, three weeks or so.
“I’ve steadily been upping the hours since then; I live near the Peak District so I’ve been getting myself used to climbing.
“As I said, I train with Russ Downing; he’s still got it – and his fund of stories is endless.”
And is Bryan Steel still advising on your training?
“Yeah, and I’ll be talking to him more this year; I’ll be racing less than I was in Belgium where you tend to just race then recover and then race again.
“But in France there’ll be less racing and I’ll be more into building up to and peaking for races than I could do in Belgium.”
And 2019 is about…?
“That’s a difficult one but I’m hoping that in France where there are more pro-continental teams than Belgium I can land a stagiaire ride with one of them.”
[France has five proconti. teams: Arkea-Samsic, Cofidis, Delko-Marseille, Direct Energie and VitalConcept whilst Begium has four: Correndon Circus, Sport Vlaanderen,Wallonie-Bruxelles and Wanty-Groupe Goubert, ed.]
“I want to make a name for myself like Connor Swift has done, get myself noticed!”
We admire the man’s ambition and will be keeping an eye on those French results for him in 2019.