Interview: Andy Swain Looks Ahead to Cicle Classic

Interview: Andy Swain Looks Ahead to Cicle Classic

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Interview: Paul Burgoine | 16 April 2012

Andy Swain, the man behind the Metaltek-Scott Pro team looks ahead to the , arguably the toughest one-day Road Race in the UK, which takes place on Sunday 29th April.

Andy what is your cycling background?

I joined my local club, Melton Olympic CC as a 14 year old and rode local Time Trials. By 20 I was a reasonable 2nd cat, I could race competitively with most riders in the East Midlands, but didn’t commit fully, as I socialised a lot and worked hard at my career as a CNC Programmer, which led to me starting my own business years later (Metaltek). Through the years I have organised the local road race and also sponsored it, so it became the ‘Metaltek GP’. I remember Dean and Russ Downing scoring a 1-2 in 2004 edition of this race. I also have been the Regional Competition Administrator for British Cycling, I’ve organised races at Mallory Park and the CiCle Classic Kermesse which Scott Thwaites won as a junior in 2007.

What was your inspiration for forming the Metaltek-Scott Professional team?

More recently I co-sponsored the Cycle Premier Team, which I got involved with after joining Rod Freeman’s Cycling Bargains Team as a rider in 2008- to ride the Ras de Cymru. Last year I chose to step away from the Cycle Premier Team to do something more regional, and get back on the bike myself. I had approached SCOTT via Nick Craig the previous year and they seemed very keen on having representation on the UK Road scene. With the backing of SCOTT and the kudos of the name, it sort of snowballed away from anything regional and before I knew it we were looking at a team capable of competing in the Tour Series, and Premier Calendar Races, leaving me very little time to ride my bike again!

What are your memories of the Cicle Classic?

I’ve been a fan of Colin Clews' race since its inception, as it finishes in my home town Melton Mowbray and uses all my local training roads. Scot Gamble won the first year with a close friend of mine Jimmy Cambridge finishing 4th. Jimmy has been involved in the race most years as he lives in Oakham and is somewhat a local legend; he also finished 9th and 11th in recent times. To see such a spectacle on my local roads (and tracks!) is amazing. I obviously know every metre of the course and its difficulty is down to the constant rolling up and down roads, not just the ‘sectors’. Mark Cavendish rode one year for an Isle of Man Team, the crowd in Owston gave him a massive welcome and they enjoyed the party atmosphere. A not so good memory last year, was our rider Stephen Gallagher crashing out and breaking his collarbone. I got out of the Team car and sat with him until the ambulance arrived.

Being your home race what does it mean to you, to have a team in the race?

It obviously means a lot having a Team in the race, as a lot of people locally have heard of Metaltek and seeing the association to a global brand like SCOTT will make their ears prick up somewhat. I also know the majority of the local cycling community, so I’m sure they will be cheering for the Team on what is our home ground. I’m very proud to have my links with the area; I even took the organiser of last week’s Tour Doon Hame in Scotland a Melton Mowbray Pork Pie to show our heritage.

What has been your favourite edition of the race?

2009 was a good race, with ‘Superman’ Ian Wilkinson getting the better of the Danish rider, Michael Berling who now rides for Rod’s 2012 Cycle Premier Team. Third was Yanto Barker another class act who I’m a big fan of.

What type of rider do you think this circuit will suit?

The race is HARD! You have to be able to recover from the numerous amounts of red zone efforts - hills, corners, special sectors and the constant attacks. Any rider up there will need years of experience to cope with the continuous decision making, effort measuring and coolness required dealing with punctures and attacks etc.

Do you feel you have the riders at Metaltek-Scott to be competitive in the Cicle Classic?

Yes of course. I wouldn’t enter a Team just to say we were there. A certain amount of good fortune is required with punctures and more importantly the timing of any punctures and accessibility to the Team Car for service. We were unlucky in the first Premier Calendar at Dengie. Marcel Six punctured on a section with about 12 miles to go. The Team Skoda was stuck in the convoy on a rough single track and it took the best part of 4 minutes to get to him. It took a long chase to get back on, and as Marcel just made contact, the group had started attacking each other. The effort of the chase meant he had to be selective with his efforts and finally finished 8th.

The race is described as Britain’s Belgium Classic do you think this is a fair description and why?

Yes! The public really come out in force and get involved. So many people spectate that live in the local area and not just cycling fans. But cycling fans nationwide seem to make the journey for this race. The special sectors add to the excitement and uncertainty; the roads make the result the right one as they are so tough without being renowned as hilly and the main town ‘Depart’ and ‘Finish’ add to the big race kudos.

How do you feel the season has gone for the team so far?

The season is going to plan. We didn’t aim to come out ‘all guns blazing’ as our big target is The Halfords Tour Series Races in May and June. We have been really pleased to get in the Top Ten at both Dengie and the first two Stages of Doon Hame Premier Calendars. There is a really good vibe in the Team and morale is high and there is ALWAYS good banter! The lads love the SCOTT Foil bikes and have confidence in everything provided for them like High5 nutrition, Continental tyres, USE equipment, Beet-It stamina shots and MSTina race clothing.

What are your expectations and aims for Metaltek-Scott this season?

We have realistic expectations, we’re here to compete, learn and grow. A Top 5 finish in Tour Series would be amazing yet achievable, but the strength of the whole of the UK Peloton has increased so if that didn’t happen it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Judging by how the first two Premier Calendars have gone. We hope to keep mixing it with the big UCI outfits and gain respect in everything we do.

What are the long term plans for the team?

We hope to have longevity and build lasting relationships with our Sponsors and Suppliers. The team will grow and build on our achiements, and hopefully be a great success for our amazing sponsors. We have some big name backers like’ Knights of Old’ which are a Midlands based Haulier and Logistics company and ‘Motorhog’ – the UK’s leading vehicle dismantler and salvage expert.

Links: Report: 2011 Rutland-Melton Cicle Classic