Having a fund raiser a week before the first payday after New Year might not seem like the best idea in the world, with most folk waiting patiently for their bank balance to be replenished. Craig Grieve and his team had other ideas however and delivered a winning formula for the Spokes Race Team Launch 2019.
So the secret to their success?
An Olympic champion and record holder willing to encourage bidding in an auction of quality cycling memorabilia and assorted other donations, in a room full of cycling enthusiasts, add a little alcohol and watch the magic.
The tone for the night was set when the first item, a Team Sky race jersey signed by, amongst others, Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome and which had a pre-bid of over £500. This was countered in the room and after some serious bidding Sandy Wallace secured the prize with a £1000 bid over the telephone from Spain.
The Olympic champion in question is Scotland’s own Callum Skinner, having secured his place in history at Rio as man three in the winning British Team Sprint squad.
He proved to be the motivational speaker required to ensure that the evening raised over £10,000 to enable the Spokes Junior Race Team to look forward to a full programme in the UK and Europe.
The pressure on him to drive up the bidding was nothing compared to the Rio Team Sprint pressure; man three, following your two reigning Olympic champions and teammates and having replaced the retired Sir Chris Hoy.
Callum, having failed to deliver in the last warmup race before Rio, recording only the tenth fastest final lap in that final pre-Olympic event, when your teammates were both the fastest on their respective laps. Rio was pressure to perform. It was an interesting insight into Olympic levels of pressure.
With his gold medal in the overnight bag this was just fun; his up-selling meant the night was guaranteed to be a success.
The top price paid was for a Team GB Rio skinsuit, worn, washed and signed by Callum, who with the promise of a photo with his gold medal and a kiss managed to ensure the bidding reached an incredible high of £1,500.
Winning bidder Alan Millar of Braveheart fame more than did his bit to support the cause.
I think Craig was left shell shocked very happy and pondering “How do I top that?”
And the purpose of the fundraising?
To enable eight lucky young guys to chase their dreams and create lifelong memories on their very nice new Giant team bikes.
So before looking at this year’s team lets check how 2018 went.
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The team dominated the British Junior Road Race series with four wins, including two stage wins with four different riders.
This was backed up with two second places in the seven race series.
The season got off to the right start when Dylan Hughes won Round 1 of the Series in Wales.
He followed that up with second in the first stage of Round 2, the Junior Mendips stage race, while teammate Ben Barlow went one better, winning the second stage with Dylan taking second again.
Alex Dent also wanted in on the action with third on stage one. Ben also finished second overall.
Alfie George decided it was his turn for the win taking the Cicle Classic, whilst Dylan Hughes claimed third spot on the podium.
Next round was their home race , the two day Kingdom Classic stage race in Fife.
Alex Dent won the first stage to the top of Falkland hill and with his formidable team behind him he held on for the win on the Sunday.
Alfie George also took second place in the sixth round at Hatherleigh before moving on from the team to focus himself completely on his Team GB place.
It would be reasonable to conclude the team dominated the British scene, no mean feat.
So what about the rest of the team?
The only rider from the class of 2018 not mentioned elsewhere is Oliver Murray who will be concentrating on his studies at St Andrews university this year.
Aside from Alfie George who’s gone to Team GB, 2019 see’s some of the team from last year also moving on.
Dylan Hughes impressed throughout 2018 rounded off a great year winning the Gorey Classic in Ireland.
In 2019 he will be to joining former Spokes man Stephen Dent at Baguet-Mina-Indulek-Derito in Belgium
Whilst teammate Morgan Bown is joining French outfit Villeneuve Saint Germain Soissans Aisne
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The Class of 2019
The team for 2019 is eight strong and we caught up with the guys before they were introduced to their supporters and sponsors.
So the young guns for the team of ’19 consists of:
Oscar Onley, who had a good 2018 winning his first two races of the year.
He also took a big win in Ireland when won stage 1 and held on to the lead to win the overall.
Logan McLean, who having tried to get on the team the previous year without success, most and has secured a ride this year.
His second place in the Criterium championship confirms that.
He’s looking to win a National event and a top ten in Europe.
Aaaron King, current youth pursuit champion, who’s looking forward to junior racing and gaining more experience.
Alex Dent is the road captain for 2019 after a particularly impressive year.
Wins in the Bristol round of the National series, the overall and stage 1 of the Kingdom Classic and a top five at Menditch rounded out a stellar year.
2019 however is the year where Alex hopes to be more consistent, so winning a lot then!
Adam Mitchell won the Under 17 Scottish Criterium Championship beating teammate Aaron King to the top step of the podium.
In contrast to this, Adam is looking forward to some hilly racing in 2019.
Scott Howieson returns for his second season with the team and having turned junior is getting to grips with the jump in standard.
The former youth Criterium champion is looking to step up to the next level.
Oran McConville is new to the team and looking to gain experience and is looking forward to some European racing.
Finally, last but not least, Christopher Hordon, another new man to the team is looking forward to getting some wins and podiums at the nationals.
We wish them all every success.
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And so to the 2019 race programme, it looks good.
The season starts with a baptism of fire, if the team gets the hoped-for entry to the Junior Kuurne Brussels Kuurne in Belgium.
A race which we have watched more than once and which starts like every rider is trying out for the team sprint and doesn’t slow down much either!
A good warm-up required methinks.
With a good mixture of races including all the rounds of the British Junior Championship series and a smattering of races in mainland Europe, including the Phil Gilbert Classic the season promises to offer these young guys hungry for success every opportunity.
We’ve been given a taste of the quality in depth in the team when at the British team pursuit championships in late January the team posts 4.15 for the 4km, mighty impressive when you consider these four guys; Logan McLean 17, Aaron King 16, Oscar Onley16, Adam Mitchell 16, are Juniors. Indeed three of them turned junior on 1st January.
It might just be me but this blew my mind. Sure teams went a lot faster but juniors going that speed… maybe I’m just getting old. What potential!
We look forward to following their adventures and wish the whole team every success