Cherie Pridham’s young Vitus Pro Cycling Team gave a further glimpse of its ultimate potential with strong performances in both events at the seventh and eighth rounds of the 2018 OVO Tour Series in Stevenage.
The young men in red - Andy Shackel, Grant Martin, Liam Davies, Harrison Jones, and Julio Amores – acquitted themselves well, both in the team time-trial and the circuit race that followed.
Pridham, the team’s owner and manager, and a former rider who raced in professional cycling’s top tier during a pioneering age for the women’s sport, was pleased with her young team’s performance.
“The whole Stevenage event was a positive one for us because we had five rookies at the team time-trial, and they rode a very positive race,” she said.
“We had the option of finishing with four of the five riders in the team time-trial, as only the times of the first four finishers counted towards the team’s result, but we decided to finish with five, just in case. They rode a very tight formation and looked great. Importantly, they were happy with their ride, too.”
The team time-trial is arguably the sport’s most beautiful discipline, driven by a smooth interchange of positions among the riders, but a truly synchronised performance cannot be achieved overnight. A coordinated display by Vitus Pro Cycling Team in the team's first competitive team time-trial offered a window on how much they had learned during a pre-season training camp in Spain.
Confidence was high among the same quintet as the started the ‘crit’ race later the same evening. Racing on a deliciously warm evening that delivered almost perfect conditions the team rode with without fear against its more experienced rivals.
“We went into the Stevenage crit feeling really positive and we saw Harrison, Liam and Julio in the main group,” Pridham said. “It was only being taken out by a lapped rider that prevented Harrison from finishing off a good ride with a great result.
Jones’ misfortune echoed that suffered by team-mate Adam Kenway in the previous round. Kenway, a breakaway specialist with a huge ‘engine’, and a useful time-trialist to boot, would have been a significant asset in Stevenage, but was left with a broken jaw and scaphoid after being brought by a back marker in Aberystwyth.
In Stevenage, Vitus Pro Cycling Team gave further signs of a young squad growing accustomed to the demands of the Tour Series, justifiably regarded as the world’s most competitive circuit racing series.
“It was a very positive start to the two days of racing and in the circuit race that followed, the riders again acquitted themselves well, with three of the five in the main group until a lapped rider took out Harrison Jones who crashed.”
Vitus Pro Cycling Team will race again at the Wembley Park round of the Tour Series on Tuesday May 29, where Jones is expected to return to action.