Monday, September 20, 2021
HomeInterviewsTom Southam - Behind the Wheel in the Drapac Team Car

Tom Southam – Behind the Wheel in the Drapac Team Car

-

Tom Southam
Tom Southam.

The last time we spoke to ex-pro Tom Southam he was Rapha Condor’s press officer – but he’s moved on again and is now the man behind the steering wheel in the Drapac team car.

We recently interviewed the Pro Continental squad’s Sam Spokes after his excellent top five placing in the Australian Road race Championship behind IAM’s Heinrich Haussler; since then the team have been rampant with stage wins in the Tour Down Under and most recently the Jayco Herald Sun Tour courtesy of Wouter Wippert and Will Clarke, respectively.

Tom took time recently to chat to VeloVeritas about his move from word processor to team car.

Are you a full time Honorary Aussie these days?

“I’m a resident, I’ve been a resident for a number of years but obviously I’ve been going backwards and forwards for a lot of that time, my passport is British still, however I wouldn’t mind getting one of those new Norwegian passports, they look pretty cool.”

When was your last race – do you miss competing?

“I’m not sure what my last race as an actual bike rider was.

“The last time I really tried in a bike race was the 2011 Tour of Lorraine, the last time I did a bike race as a full time rider was the 2011 Preston GP, but the last actual bike race I did was a four-hour MTB race in Bristol in October.

“I’ve done a few running races, some cyclo-cross and some rowing since retiring from racing, so I clearly still enjoy competing.”

Tom Southam
Tom in action for Rapha. Photo©Lyn Lamouroux

When did you first start thinking about DS-ing?

“I only really considered it seriously this year when I thought about the opportunity to come to Drapac.

“Previously I had done it as a sideline along with the work as a press officer, but when the opportunity came up and I thought about the job I was really motivated to do it full time.”

How did the job come about?

“I’ve obviously known the Drapac set-up for a number of years, and I’ve seen them at races in Asia and the US over the years.

“In that time I’d been really impressed with how they’d developed.

“At the same time my girlfriend is from Melbourne and she fancied spending a bit of time closer to her family so it all came about really quite organically in the end.”

Tell us about Drapac, please – a real estate company, I believe?

“The Drapac Group is a boutique specialist property investment and development company.”

It must be a wrench to leave Rapha Condor?

“It’s always tough to leave somewhere when there are no issues, I still feel quite attached to the team in a way.

“I’ve worked with John Herety as a rider and then in team staff on and off since I was eighteen, and in the six years that I was at the Rapha Condor set up I really enjoyed the experience.

“In particular the last year where we had a really great group of riders, plus staff who all worked well and got along and three great sponsors – who were all passionate about the sport and strong supporters of the team, the environment was really great there, and I think that showed in the results that we got through the year.”

Tom Southam
John Herety has run the Rapha squad for years. Photo©ToB

And you must be proud of Hugh Carthy’s move to Caja Rural?

“I’m really pleased for Hugh, obviously.

“He’s a huge talent and I am really glad that we could give him the opportunities that he needed to step up to the next level.

“One of the real pleasures of the year for me was seeing him find the confidence that he needed to take the next step.

“He started going well early on but it wasn’t until Japan where it suddenly clicked for him, and you could see the change almost overnight.

“When he got to Korea he was a confident decisive bike racer, and he didn’t put a foot wrong in that race.”

Back to Drapac; why Pro Continental when much of the racing is UCI Asia Tour – Continental would be less hassle?

“The team has ambitions to develop so in 2015 there will be much less of the Asian calendar, as the team pushes into the bigger international events.

“It is also important for the team to be eligible to get a start at the Tour Down Under, which is a huge thing for the team, for obvious reasons.

[Wippert’s stage win against strong World Tour opposition was a huge home result for Drapac, ed.]

Tom Southam
Wouter Wippert taking centre stage in the TDU. Photo©CyclingTips

And is it correct the team has World Tour ambitions, eventually?

“Michael Drapac has stated that is where he wants to take the team, and I believe that the organization and the program that they are putting in place will be capable of doing this if they continue to evolve and develop as they have been.”

Tell us about the team for 2015, please.

“It’s an 18-man squad with 14 Australian’s and 4 international riders.

“The team won 17 races last year and had over 30 podiums.

“But next year’s squad is a distinctly stronger team than in previous seasons, with a few key signings.

“Our main ambition has been to build a strong sprint team around Wouter Wippert, but we have also taken on a number of strong climbers such as Tim Roe, and Sam Spokes who both have massive stage race potential.”

How’s the race programme looking ?

“We’ve cut down on a number of the smaller races next year and are looking instead at the bigger races in the US, Asia and Europe.”

What’s the hardware – still Swift frames with SRAM components ?

“Yes, we have the same equipment suppliers for the bikes.”

And still lots of red on the jersey ?

“Yes, but no red shorts, which personally I’m quite pleased about.”

Tom Southam
Blue shorts, much to the relief of all. Photo©Drapac

How big is cycle sport in Australia?

“Cycling is in a growth phase much like the one that is being experienced in the UK.”

What are you looking for from season 2015?

“As a team we have certain goals that we have laid out, but my personal ambition is to be a sports director who makes a positive difference to my team through creative thought and a conscientious approach to the tasks that the job entails …”

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.

Related Articles

Shaun Wallace – Part Two; Pro Crit Racing in the U.S.ofA.

In Part One of our interview with Shaun Wallace we covered up to the end of his international pursuiting successes. But there were more honours to come on the big stage before he slipped the tyre covers on for the last time...

Rik Evans – Part Two; “It was a win that lost me my job”

Rik Evans continues telling his story, from giving away a Worlds title to Commonwealth Gold medal, top club 34 Nomads and his slide out of cycling but into depression. Evans has now settled in Australia and cycling has come back into his life.

Michael Broadwith – British 24 Hour TT Champion with a distance of 537 miles!

If you go out for a ‘steady state’ run of perhaps three hours and you average 22.4 mph then you’ve not been hanging about. But how about holding that tempo for 24 hours ? that’s ‘twenty four’ hours, a full day or three consecutive shifts at work? That’s exactly what Michael Broadwith (Arctic Tacx) did in the recent British 24 Hour Time Trial Championship, recording an event record for the Merseyside course of 537 miles; we felt that anyone who can average 22.4 mph for 24 hours has to be worth speaking to...

Adrian Timmis – Part One; Riding Le Tour with ANC

Adrian TImmis could do it all: track, stage races, criteriums, cyclo-cross and even MTB. A talented junior with a British championship to his name, he rode the 1984 Olympics, turned pro with the most glamorous professional team Britain had ever seen, won a stage in the Midi Libere, rode Le Tour with the now legendary ANC team, landed a contract with Z-Peugeot and then...

Barry Davies – Colourful Cyclocross Star of the 70’s and 80’s

These last few winters we’ve tracked down some of those colourful British cyclo-cross stars of the 70’s and 80’s – Keith Mernickle, Eric Stone and Chris Wreghitt have all told their stories to VeloVeritas. But perhaps the most colourful of them all was the man with the ‘George Best Look’ and the lightest of bikes – Barry Davies.

Peter Hill – the Two Times BBAR Winner who Turned Pro for Peugeot

‘When I were a lad’ next to the Milk Race the biggest deal in UK cycling was the BBAR (Best British All Rounder) to find Britain’s best ‘tester’ – over 50 and 100 miles plus the 12 hour. The competition still exists but do you know who the BBAR is? Me neither. Yorkshire’s Peter Hill won the BBAR twice in the 60's but instead of going for his ‘hat trick’ he completely changed direction and headed across the English Channel to France and established himself as one of the world’s leading amateur time trial exponents before turning professional with Peugeot - but in those Machiavellian days it didn’t work out. Here’s his story...

At Random

Hugh Carthy – a Season of Ups and Downs with Caja Rural

Here at VeloVeritas we rate 21 year-old Englishman Hugh Carthy; not for him a ride with a team where the lingua franca is his native tongue – no sir, Spain’s only Pro Continental team, Caja Rural is who he signed with after his excellent Tour of Korea win for Condor, last season. He’s had a busy baptism of fire - the pre-season Mallorca races; Ruta del Sol; early season hard man’s races in Belgium and France; the Pais Vasco; Trentino, Beauce, the Volta, a strong ride in Colorado then some good late season form in France and Italy.

An Open Letter to Mr. Pat McQuaid

Dear Mr. McQuaid, I'm so glad you've decided on VinoKolGate that: "Yes, there are rules about that. It is clear, if there is evidence, there could be penalties after an investigation on our part." I'm sure that you're aware that there have been arrests in the UK for the hacking of mobile phones and email accounts, and that there's not a court in Europe which would accept evidence obtained by hacking, but I realise that these are mere bagatelles to the might of the UCI and those Eastern riders have to be sorted out.

Dougie Young

It's with much sadness that VeloVeritas has to report the passing of another young man who's life hadn't really begun. Just days after Ben Abrahams was taken from us, Dougie Young has gone too. Rest in peace, Dougie. Sincere condolences to his friends, family and loved ones from Martin and Ed here at VeloVeritas.

World Road Championships 2012 – Day One, Arrival in Valkenburg

The beer's not cheap on Grotestraat in Valkenburg, at two Euros a pop, but with Dario G's 'Sunchyme' banging out, you can't complain. It takes me to Copenhagen and the 'balustrade sprints' at the Six Days. But that's not 'til next year - and we still have this year to put to bed.

Le Tour de France 2009 – Stage 15: Pontarlier > Verbier, 207.5km

We finished in Verbier today, but first, a little diversion; I've always admired Bradley Wiggins as a pursuiter, but as a roadman, he's never cut the mustard; the cycling saddo's bible, 'Velo' doesn't lie.

World Road Championships 2006 – Day 1: Getting there

Off to the World Road Championships 2006. It was a 04.00 alarm job to get ready to leave at 06.00 and I hadn't had time to pack the night before. It's always the same driving to Prestwick-you think you are making great time until you get to Stepps and the vast car park that is the M8 during the rush-hour. Check-in at Prestwick wasn't too bad but the Colgate had to go-I wouldn't mind but it drives me crazy not knowing how to convert it into an explosive device.