Thursday, January 20, 2022
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Toby Perry – Racing with Hagens Berman Axeon in 2022

“I’ll be stepping up a level, racing against ProTeam and World Tour riders and want to keep my progression going.”

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It was back in April of this year when we first spoke to Ashford, Kent rider, Toby Perry, a young man who’d been making a name for himself in España, we’ll refresh your memories: 

How did you get into the sport in the first place, Toby?

“I was about 16 year-old and I didn’t have much choice, I was originally into rugby but my mum – who’s a triathlete and cyclist – bought me a ‘cross bike and entered me for the Rapha Super Cross – which I hated every second of! 

“I had a year away from the bike then rode another ‘cross and began to enjoy it.

“I finished school and made sure that I had the necessary exam results to get in to university if I want to take that direction when my cycling days are over.” 

Toby Perry
Toby Perry at Trofeo Joan Escola. Photo©Moises Aguilera

What were your UK palmarès like?

“As a junior I won the South East Regional Championships, I got third in a stage in the Tour of the Mendips and won a kermesse in France.

“I haven’t actually raced u23 events in the UK; my first year I went to Belgium then last year, season 2020 was a non-starter with Covid pandemic and this year I’m racing in Spain.”

And I get trouble from Jos Ryan if I don’t ask; are you a Dave Rayner Fund Man?

“Oh yes!

“I first got support from the fund in 2019 and it’s been an amazing help, taking a lot of pressure away from me.”

* * *

Since we spoke to Toby back then things have moved on apace for him and by happy coincidence we caught up with his coach, former British champion on road and track, Dean Downing at the Hawick start of the Tour of Britain stage.

‘Deano’ advised us that it might be a good idea to ring Toby in Spain – he had some good news to share.

We took Dean’s advice and duly contacted Toby; the good news was that he was signing for US based u23 continental team, Axeon which is sponsored by international law firm, Hagens Berman.

It’s been former pro, Belgian Champion and Olympic medallist, Axel Merckx’s enterprise since its founding in 2009 and along with the likes of the Dutch DSM squad and Italian Zalf and Colpack squads is one of the top development teams in the world. 

The team website tells us; 

‘The team exists to develop young (under-23) riders through to the very top of the sport. 

‘Over the last 13 years, Axel and his team have seen ​39​ of their riders graduate to World Tour teams.’

We couldn’t break the news in our pages until the official announcement was made recently so here’s what Toby had to say to us.

Toby Perry
Toby Perry will continue to be coached by Dean Downing. Photo©Eriz Fraile

Congratulations sir, what will you miss about Spain now that you’re on a US team.

“I’ll actually be remaining in Spain, Girona in Catalonia is where I’ll be based.

“But I will miss being part of the amateur race scene here in Northern Spain though, it’s so friendly and vibrant, after April there were three or four events every week.”

How did the farewell dinner with your La Tova – Asesoria Amudevar team go.

“It ended up with just three of us and the team manager there due to other guys racing commitments – and sadly, no sangria!”

Remind us of your palmarès for the year, please.

“I had six stage and one day race wins and there was one GC win plus I had six second places, my wins this year were: 

  • 29th August: Fiestas de Barbastro
  • 4th July: Tour du Piémont Pyrénéen, 4th stage
  • 6th June: Challenge B-Guara-2
  • 30th May: Vuelta a Alicante overall
  • 28th May: Vuelta a Alicante, 1st stage
  • 16th May: GP Vila-Real
  • 21st March: Memorial Zunzarren-Estella.”
Toby Perry
Toby Perry has won a lot of races this season. Photo©La Tova – Asesoria Amudevar

Is there one victory which gives you most satisfaction?

“The Tour du Piemont Pyreneen stage, I made a bold move in that one and it paid off, I was pleased with that result

You were up against some handy boys, Juan Ayuso who won the Baby Giro and is with UAE now and Marc Brustenga who had six wins for Caja Rural and goes to Trek Segafredo for 2022.

“Yes, strong riders for sure.

“I didn’t encounter Ayuso so much but I raced against Brustenga a lot; he’s a nice guy, very friendly and we’d frequently chat, our team competed against Caja Rural at a lot of races.” 

Your progression has been good this year.

“Yes, I’m pleased with it, my power is better but more importantly I’ve learned so much – especially how to read a race.

“And my descending has improved, it used to be shaky after I had a crash where I broke my arm.”

It must have been nice to get the call from Axel Merckx.

“Yes, but a bit scary.

“Hagens Berman Axeon is one of the top development teams in the world and I’ll be racing at an altogether higher level in 2022 so it’s a bit of a nervous proposition.”

When’s the first team get together?

“There are training camps planned for the US and Catalonia but obviously it’s all Covid permitting.

“Here in Spain the Covid situation is better, albeit we lost some race days because guys on the team contracted it and we had to quarantine.”