Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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Simon Cope – Team Wiggins’ new Director Sportiv

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Simon Cope
Simon Cope.

Team Wiggins ? Fear not, VeloVeritas is on the case.

Our man in Gent, Ian Whitehead informed us that his amigo of some 25 years, Simon Cope is ‘Chat Show Sensation’ (it says here) Wiggins’ DS for the new venture.

We checked Mr. Cope out and he’s got the T-shirt, the DVD and the box set – originally a ’34 Nomad before he turned pro and a British champion on road and track we decided to do the usual VeloVeritas thing and ‘have a word.’

Thanks for talking to us, Simon – you rode the junior Worlds way back in ’84?

“Yes, that was in Cannes, Tom Cordes (The Netherlands) won – it was a real eye opener.

(Cordes went on to become a very handy pro with a win in the Trofeo Baracchi and a Vuelta stage among his palmares, ed.)

“I was used to competing at a certain level in England; it’s a lot easier and more common for youngsters to compete abroad – but not back then.

“Given what was about to happen within the pro peloton it wouldn’t surprise me if, well…”

A decade as a pro?

“Yeah from ’88 to ’98 with McCartney as my last pro team – I raced for a few years after that but traveled a lot less so it was full circle, back to racing locally at the end of my racing career.

“In 2005/6 I had a bad crash and decided it was time to stop.”

Simon Cope
Simon takes his first of three stage wins in the 1985 Tour of Ireland. Photo©Simon Cope

You raced in pro in the States, too.

“It was good, I was there ‘90/’91 to ’96 – I was supposed to go back in ’97 but the team folded and I ended up riding a race in Malta where I made the connection to ride for McCartney.

“I had a few nice results in the US but most of the time I was riding for Graeme Miller the New Zealander who won a lot of races in the US.

“I enjoyed that, you do your job and there’s a lot less pressure on you.”

McCartney?

“I had an agreement with them for one season but was supposed to ride with them the next year – but things changed, Julian Clarke flicked someone and there was a change of DS who didn’t want me.

“No complaints though, I got paid and produced a few results.”

Crit Champion in ’97.

“Yeah, I was in the break with Walsham, McKay, Bayfield and I attacked with a couple of laps to go and held them off – I was third in the Crit Champs in ’93, too.

“I wasn’t a crit specialist, I won a 110 mile stage in the Ràs but I wasn’t a great climber – I liked it flat, fast with echelons.

“Diet wasn’t such a big factor back then, if you look at pictures from those days riders are maybe heavier set – weight wasn’t such a big thing.”

Simon Cope
Second to Tony Doyle in the 1989 Tour of the Marshes. Photo©Simon Cope

You rode in Belgium for Frans Assez at Flanders.

“Yeah, kermises and semi-Classics up to 200 K, nothing too big …”

And were 50km Motor Paced Champion in ’99.

“That was the last time they ran this championship.

“I just turned up at Herne Hill one day and decided to give it a whirl; I ended up riding behind the big motors in Germany – it’s still big there and in Switzerland.

“Folks think it’s easy sitting there in the draft but it’s really hard discipline which no one really took seriously here – I think Rob Hayles had the characteristics to be World Champion in the motor paced.”

30km Derny Champion in 2000 too…

“And it was the first time they ran this one – at Reading track and I thought I’d have a crack.

“It arrived too late in my career or I could have had more success at it, I think.”

You were GB ladies coach for five years?

“In 2006 I got a job with BC as junior girls coach with the Academy and looked after the team at the Worlds.

“In the end I was taking girls to their races but things changed at the end of 2011 when they stopped that programme.

“I coached a ladies team in the US for a year but it was too far away from my family and then in 2013 Shane Sutton asked if I’d coach the Wiggle Honda girls – then I was coaching lads on the Academy programme.

“The big restructure last year was when I spoke to Shane and got my chance to get involved with the Wiggins team.”

Simon Cope
Simon (in blue and silver) heads for his third win in the Guildford Criterium, this one in 2002. Photo©Simon Cope

What’s the plot with Wiggin’s new team?

“The aim is to provide a common environment for the team pursuit squad through to the Rio Olympics.

“The only member of the squad who’s not with us is Ed Clancy; he’s been with John Herety at Condor a long time and doesn’t want to leave them.

“We have Sir Bradley, Owain Doull, Jon Dibben, Andy Tennant, Mark Christian and Steven Burke for the team pursuit; plus we have [your blogger] Dan Patten who’ll ride road events with us – and two mountain bikers, Mike Thomson and Iain Paton.

“Brad wants to put something back into the sport and is keen to find his successor.”

Simon Cope
The new team’s colours.

What’s the programme like?

“It’s mainly a domestic road programme as part of their team pursuit preparation; if you start a Continental team in the UK you have to commit to supporting the home calendar.

“To ride a dual UK/European programme you’d need maybe 15/16 riders – but all eyes are on preparing for Rio.

“The lads are currently preparing for the Worlds in Paris – after that they’ll have a rest then begin their road programme a little later than everyone else.

“Their specialist track preparation is down to Heiko Salzwedel who I’ll be liaising with throughout the year.”

Will we see sub 3:50 in Rio?

“That’s a big ask; we’ve not seen the track yet and there are so many factors – the altitude the track is at, the weather, the temperature, the air pressure – but it’s conceivable …”

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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