Tour Series will be ‘Tasty’ says Herety

Tour Series will be ‘Tasty’ says Herety


Tour Series will be ‘Tasty’ says Herety

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Story posted May 11, by Larry Hickmott

As the most experienced team manager in Britain and the person in charge of the most expensive collection of riders in the country, John Herety has had an interesting year so far. Last weekend, his team scored major victories in Britain and Ireland and are looking almost unbeatable.

Not only has John's squad of riders been very competitive in the British races, but he has also had to deal with the team being stranded in America because of the Volanic Ash chaos. The business end of the season is almost upon us but the recent trip to America could have been costly for John’s team with his riders stuck there for 10 days or so when they should have been racing in Europe.

Chris Newton took the biggest victory so far this year for the team with a win in the Lincoln GP to add to his two stage wins in the DoonHame Premier Calendar stage race at Easter.

John took a team of riders to the USA to ride the Tour of the Battenkill to support the team’s sponsors in America and on arrival, the team dived straight into action doing promotional things for their sponsors. “I’ve taken riders all over the world, and it takes a lot to get them excited about a ride but they came back from a ride around Central Park absolutely elated” John explained.

We’d flown in the night before at 8pm (2am UK rime) and then they were up at 6am in the morning for the ride and were staggered by the number of people who turned up for the ride. They then got taken on a tour of New York on their Condor bikes and what a fantastic way to see this great city. They were buzzing when they got back so it went very very well”.

Whilst the PR job was well done, the manager admits the work load did have an affect on their performance in the main race they were doing, the Tour of the Battenkill. “It was a fantastic race and very similar to the CiCLE Classic in that the race was on tarmac and dirt roads and these type of courses are quite common there” John explained. “The race was two sixty mile loops and it rained the night before which made it tough. It was the climbs on the course though that I’d say were a bigger factor than the off road sections.

The race says John is in the middle of nowhere, but is a fantastic race where the whole town get behind it. “The race was of a good standard with a similar style of racing to Britain and was a cross between here and a UCI race in Europe with teams working well to bring back breaks and so on.

Rapha Condor Sharp’s top finisher was Dean Downing who crossed the line in 15th place after sprinting in with a bunch of 40 or so riders going for 5th. “The last 30k” says Dean “was up and down with 15 per cent climbs and on dirt roads as well. It was a really good race and I really enjoyed it apart from getting belted! I got dropped on the climbs but came back through the convoy and Kristian helped me out in the sprint where I had dead legs but I managed to get up there. 200k is a long way for me though!

2010 Lincoln GP and John Herety has a chat with eventual winner Chris Newton before the start.

Looking back, John Herety feels that next time, the race should come first followed by the PR but the challenges for the team were to get tougher because instead of flying back to Europe for an important stage race in France, the team were stuck in America. That, says John, caused the team problems and could potentially affect their season. John was also miffed at the organiser of the stage race he missed in Brittany for sending him a snotty email and failing to understand the chaos that the Volanic Ash was causing world wide.

Instead of flying back to Europe, the team were holed up in New York which wasn’t ideal from a training point of view but a few emails later, a solution was sorted for them to get in some riding.

Once we’d sent out some emails, one of the Rapha Club members in the States replied and said he was going on holiday and asked us to come and use his house in Connecticut. Where we were staying was the most beautiful countryside in the most beautiful house. He had that much land he had a cyclo-cross course in the back yard as well as a BMX course so it could have been a heck of a lot worse for us. We had great training roads and we managed to get in some club races. PR wise, it was fantastic”.

The Tour Series Beckons
WIth planes flying people back and forth across the Atlantic after a week of indecision on the crisis, John and his riders flew into Britain and their first race back, the Chas Messenger National A race where they filled the podium with a 1-2-3. That result however doesn't mean all is well as John explained.

We’re now trying to catch up on the seven days of racing we have missed” John went on to explain. “We need to ride one tour a month to stay on top of it and be competitive at the Tour of Britain and  missing Britanny has left a big hole in our programme. We’re taking a big chance now going to the Tour of Japan (May 16-23) and we’ll also have a team doing the RAS in Ireland. (May 23-30). They dovetail into each other and the logic behind it all is we’ll have 12 riders all with a stage race in their legs and that should help them not fade towards the back end of the Tour Series.

Last year we noticed a number of teams starting to fade because these crits are so hard because of the travelling you have to do in between them and that makes it hard to maintain fitness. A rider’s form then starts to drop off because basically, they can’t train.

Dean Downing in winning form at the Tour Series in 2009.

I won’t get to select from the team’s 12 riders for the first round of the Tour Series and that was a conscience decision on my part. I think we’ll be defensive for the first few rounds in the Tour Series before we come good Manchester United style towards the end of the season. It is a risky strategy because Canary Wharf is Rapha Condor Sharp’s home event.

We’ll be flying in from Japan on the Monday evening for the race at Canary Wharf on Tuesday night. It will be asking a lot of the riders.I’ll have five riders in the RAS and six riders in Japan and one injured, Tom Southam."

With the Tour Series starting in a few weeks, there is little doubting the importance of the event to not just John’s team but all the squads competing. Taking a look at the racing calendar, it is easy to see why so many of the team’s have had to strengthen their squads to cope with the demands of the racing at the end of May and through June.

The Tour Series sees the riders racing twice a week for five weeks right round England and then on top of that, the teams also have commitments in races like the two Premier Calendar events (Ryedale and Beaumont) as well as other major races like Elite Circuit races, the Smithfield Nocturne and the Leazes crit in Newcastle. To top it all off, there is the British National Road Race championship only three days after the final of the Tour Series at the end of June.

And the defending champion is Rapha Condor Sharp rider, Kristian House. No pressure then!

Like a lot of managers, John admits there will have to be some careful use of his riders during this busy period. “We’ll definitely be rotating the riders during the series and we have quite a strong squad to do that which was intentional in the way the squad was created for this season”.

John went on to explain that he’ll be looking at the courses used when selecting his five riders and that one of the key riders will be Dean Downing who is capable of winning both circuit races as well as stages in UCI Tours.

The Tour Series has come up really quickly” Dean explained recently “and there are a few of the team’s riders who are concentrating on it. You have to do the road races as well to get the form and I’m looking forward to the first event in the Tour Series. I had a good series last year with two personal victories and two team victories and we want to go better this year and take out the overall”.

We have got a strength in-depth team and every one of them can win bikes races. With a few Aussies in the team (Darren Lapthorne, Dean Windsor and Zak Dempster), it’s becoming an Anglo-Australian team. We’re all excited about the Tour Series and the first one in Canary Wharf is going to be amazing. It’s our home sponsors turf and being the ‘home’ team for the first race will be special.

Dean’s manager John Herety is confident that like last year, Deano will be lapping up the attention the riders get in the Tour Series. “I think from our team, one of the key riders will always be Dean (Downing). He’s loves the spotlight and when the crowd comes out and the flashes start firing, the teeth come out and he’s on it. So I think Dean will be good and a hit with the crowds again.

There is another guy who I think will be pretty special too and that’s Dean Windsor. We’ve kept him under wraps here so far and you may not even see him in the first week of the Tour Series as I think it will be later that he’ll come good but he’ll be pretty special I think. The TV will take to him and the crowds will as well.

A 1-2-3 in the National A event, the Chas Messenger, showed just how strong the Rapha Condor Sharp team are. Pictured is winner Dan Craven.

Last year, it was clear that the team format of the races took some getting used too but John feels that the managers will be on it this year from day 1. “I think it will also be like it was 20 years ago when we had the Kellogs and Michelin series. The racing will become a lot tighter and a lot more aggressive as pressure from sponsors increases on managers and their riders”.

I think riders will be trying to take advantage of commissaries more and more and the comms are going to have to be very very strong knowing what happened 20 years ago. I saw elements of it last year as riders were pushing the envelope of the way the rules were written and a lot went on last year that I wasn’t happy with.

This is going to be a really important series for teams and their sponsors. Our sponsor, Sharp, are supporting us because of the Tour Series and because we have a big multi national company coming into our sport, for me, if we were to lose the series overall because of somebody cheating and somebody unable to enforce the rules, then I’ll be like the proverbial football manager coming on at the end and pointing the finger.

It happened 20 years ago. The margins for error are getting smaller and smaller and that is great for the guys in the media and it will be great TV. It’s going to be pretty ‘tasty’ at times and I can only see it getting more tasty the year after because I can see the series growing. The format is excellent and the public are understanding it. Sponsors get three bites of the cherry as well with the winner on the night, the team on the night and the team leading overall.” 

A perfect scenario for any team is a 1-2-3 in the races and that will certainly be the aim of the riders in the Rapha Condor Sharp colours. “We need riders who sprint well at the end of a race and I’ll be looking at the nature of each course when selecting our riders. Teams are going to be created that are quite sprint orientated and we’re going to want to split that up. Tear it apart.

Creating breakaways will get more difficult the better everyone becomes and the racing then gets negative because everyone is cancelling each other out because they want a bunch sprint. We have riders who can win a bunch sprint but I don’t want it to finish in bunch sprints because there is too much hanging on that last lap. So we’ll need to get riders away in moves.

Choosing our riders certainly won’t be straight forward.

John admits that because of the success of the Tour Series that his wage bill has gone up this year now that riders are being head hunted and market forces are giving riders some bargaining power. With teams getting stronger and riders improving to warrant their wages, it isn’t only the Tour Series that benefits though.

Premier Calendar and British National Series Events
Whilst the Tour Series has helped the sport, John and other managers are also aware of the importance of the other organisers in cycling. Those who have been running events for decades and who need the support of the top teams.

Like the organisers of the Premier Calendar events. “The Premier Calendar races are really important for us, Rapha, Condor and Sharp. DoonHame at Dumfries was a big win for us, a very big win and we’re looking forward to all of the races in the series.”

Winner of rounds two and three of the Premier Calendar, Rapha Condor Sharps Chris Newton.

Winner of the DoonHame Premier Calendar stage race at Dumfries was Olympic medallist Chris Newton who John says is the most tactically astute rider in the British peloton especially with British racing. “He was extremely strong at DoonHame on the first two days and we knew he’d tail off a bit on the third day after having been on the track for a while but the team rode terrifically on the last day to support him.

The National Elite Circuit Series is also important to John and his team. “They’re as important to us as the Tour Series. The big difference is that the Elite Circuit Series events are individual events  and not a team race. So, we can choose riders differently and race differently.” 

The first of the Elite Circuit Series races will be in Dumfries at the end of May where John says riders from the Tour of Japan will be representing Rapha Condor Sharp. “The organiser for Dumfries puts a great race on“ John explained. “They did at Easter and we want those sort of organisers in the sport. The sport needs them.

All this racing though does put pressure on teams, even those with a big budget (for a British team) to work with like John has for his team. With Tour Series races on Tuesday (London) and Thursday (Durham) and then a weekend of racing at Dumfries (Friday crits and then a Premier on Sunday), there is not only pressure on the riders but even more on the support staff who have to work long days to keep the team on the road.

Dean Downing with another unique victory celebration wins at the Elite Circuit Series event, the Blackburn GP in 2009.

To finish, John tell us that his team is an important stepping stone for riders who are looking to get a ride in a big squad like Team Sky and provides a bridge between smaller British teams and those in Europe. But John’s riders are not just valued because of their ability on a bike but also how they are off it as well because as anyone who follows RaphaJ on Twitter knows, the travelling doesn’t end with races because there are other PR commitments as well.

It isn’t just about racing but the interaction with the public like those in the Rapha club team and the fan base“ John explains. “And our guys are good at this”.

Very good if British Cycling experience in dealing with them is anything to go by and we wish John and his international team well as the racing seasons starts to get red hot.

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