One man who’s more relieved than most about the new season is VeloVeritas regular, James Moss — let go by Endura after two seasons and very happy to have a contract for 2012.
In this ‘winter of discontent’ with teams folding, teams merging and many riders still without a contract it’s nice to get some good news.
‘Big Phil’ Griffiths has come to the rescue and his Bentley Superleggera (or maybe he’ll have a Supersports by then?) will again be gracing changing room car parks across the UK.
Node4 Giordana UK is the name of James’ new team, morphing from Motorpoint for season 2012.
We caught up with 26 year-old James as he prepares for his third season in the paid ranks.
Were you surprised that Endura let you go, James?
“A bit, yeah — I always did what was asked of me, my role was to work for others so I didn’t build up palmares.
“The feeling I have is that if I’d had a Premier Calendar podium, I’d still be there.
“Having said that, it was a very strong team and I had an unlucky season — I was never in a position to put my hand up and say; ‘ride for me today.’”
Something we hear from many riders is the, ‘kept hanging syndrome’ when renewal time comes around.
“Up until August I’d had a couple of chats and it was agreed that I’d done what was required of me.
“But having said that, my 2011 contract was signed in July 2010.
“It was October when I was finally told that there was no place for me — I’d long finished racing for the year by that stage.
“It was a worry because I’ve moved down to the South East this year and you need a contract to pay the mortgage.
“Fortunately, I’d made a few enquiries earlier in the year — but it’s like the teams keep you in their back pocket so that they can pluck you out if they don’t sign the riders they’re after.
“When it comes to October and November you can’t really negotiate, you just have to take what’s offered if you’re not sorted.”
Do you have an agent?
“No, I organised my own contract.
“I spoke to Malcolm Elliott earlier in the year but it was unsure if Motorpoint were continuing — and at that stage it also looked like I might still be with Endura.
“It’s a grim situation when you see guys like Dan Lloyd and Roger Hammond with no contract.”
Tell us about Node4.
“It’s a software company but I don’t know much about its operation; it’s all happened so quickly and we haven’t been to sponsor’s premises yet to meet everyone and see what the company is all about.
“The owner, Albert Gilbert is a friend of Phil’s and very keen on cycling — that’s good enough for me!”
Do you already know some of your team mates.
“Dave Clark is moving across with me and I know Matt Cronshaw from when I was with Kinesis — Pete Williams was there, too.
“We met last week; it’s a good group – and I think there are a lot of riders with a point to prove.”
Pinarellos are the mounts, no doubt?
“Yes, we’ll be on Super record with Corima wheels — it’s hard to get much better than that.
“We’ve got our training bikes already — and although they’re not top of the range, they’re really nice.”
I noticed you’re on the ovoid rings.
“I’ve been using Rotor Q-Rings since I started my winter training and I am really impressed with them.
“I am sure you have heard it and read it before, but they really do seem to make the pedal stroke much more ‘fluid’, rounder and my cadence has definitely improved.
“I’ve agreed to continue using them into 2012 which is something I am really pleased about.
“I ended up using them after speaking to Neil Batt who does some PR work for Rotor UK, he’s been really helpful.”
Have you agreed your programme, yet?
“Not really but I believe we have a stage race in Norway, the Ras, the Tour of Britain plus stage races in Spain, Portugal and maybe India.
“And domestically, there’s the Tour Series crits, they just keep getting bigger with the TV coverage and good crowds.”
Approaching your third professional year, what has changed most about your training since your amateur days?
“When I was working full-time I trained around 10 or 12 hours each week — and I was constantly tired, catching colds all the time.
“I now train 20 hours plus each week but I have plenty of ‘settee time.’
“It’s hard to get used to that if you’ve always been on the go, but it’s just as important as your training — you have to get the rest and recovery.
“Being full-time enables you to do that.
“I’m also doing gym work this autumn and winter, it’s something that cyclists tend to neglect — I don’t particularly enjoy it, but it’s good for building power and core strength.
“Julian Winn, my manager at Endura used to say to me that I needed more power.
“I’ve been training with a personal trainer called Paul Butler and I’m feeling the benefits already — we do squats, leg presses… all power and core stuff.”
Have your training camps been arranged yet?
“We have an early January camp in Tenerife or Lanzarote and we’ll be in Majorca in February, we’ll be doing higher intensity stuff there, according to Phil — including motor paced work.”
What was your best ride, this year?
“I was quite disappointed with my 2011 results, nothing really stands out but I did some solid team work.
“The Tour of Brittany for example, Rene Mandri won a stage and we defended the jersey strongly — and at the death he missed the GC win by just four seconds.
“And it’s no big thing but I finally won the North East Championship — I’ve tried for years to win it and with moving down to the South East it was my last chance.”
Goals for 2012?
“I want to get back to winning; I want to get back into throwing my arms up in the air.
“I’m going to restructure my training so as I’m not ‘training through’ so many races, I want to make more races count.
“And obviously, if it’s not me winning, I want to help a team-mate to win.
“I’m not going to be a professional cyclist forever and I want to start getting results now!”
Has the UK race scene change much during your career?
“There are two scenes; the crits are booming with TV good crowds and good — almost European -atmosphere.
“But there are only seven Premiers and that’s not enough — and some of them are really in the middle of nowhere.
“The Rutland, Lincoln and Beaumont are brilliant and I know it’s not easy for organisers with police restrictions and the like but I think some of them could be better thought through — take them out of the wilderness to the people.
“And there’s only one Premier stage race, Doon Hame — since I’ve moved down here I’ve heard good things about the Surrey Five Day but it’s not on the Premier Calendar.”
Is it the case that you can’t win Premiers if you don’t do the Euro stage races to get the condition?
“It’s not far off that, that last Premier before the Tour of Britain was savage.
“There are at least 30 guys full-time in the UK and you have Rapha and Endura guys competing and winning in Europe — that makes the Premiers hard races to make the final selection in.”
“I’ll be back up at my folks in Lancashire, I’ll have the bike up there with me but I probably won’t go out on Xmas Day — when you’re full time you can afford to have a day off and I’m up there for a week so there’ll be plenty of time to get out.”