Vitus Pro Cycling Team, powered by Brother UK enjoyed a highly successful campaign at the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire, crowned by eighth place overall for Scott Thwaites at the end of a race in which the men in red were seemingly everywhere.
Indeed, in a measure of the standards set internally, the team and its leader were disappointed not to have finished even higher, despite Thwaites crossing the finish line in tenth place and within 30 seconds of overall victory, at the end of an exhilarating final stage won by Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (CCC).
Pridham had promised before the Tour de Yorkshire that her team would “come to race” and “leave everything on the road” and her riders proved as good as her word. Chris McGlinchey and Mikey Mottram delivered heroic performances in the breakaways on stages two and three, capped on both occasions by strong finishes in the bunch sprint from Thwaites.
"We've had a very successful Tour de Yorkshire and I'm enormously proud of the lads. Scott’s ride on stage three in very difficult conditions was very impressive. He really showed his class and really does deserve to be at this level," Pridham said.
"If you'd told me ten days ago that we would have finished in the top ten on GC and been active and competitive in the breaks, I would have been pleased. It's a measure of Scott's standards and our own to be disappointed after finishing eighth on GC, and shows how far we've come as a team in just a year."
Presented with arguably the biggest stage on the domestic calendar to display his talent, Thwaites wasted little time in reminding the thousands gathered at the roadside and the millions more watching on television that he belongs among the very best company.
Signed in the closed season from the UCI WorldTour, the Yorshireman, whose final stage heroics took place on home roads, seized the opportunity of leadership to go wheel-to-wheel with the biggest teams in the sport, notably on Scarborough seafront during a climactic finish to stage three that took him to within two bike lengths of victory.
Mechanical issues on stage four, however, provided an unwanted setback on the critical final stage. While none among the watching millions would have noticed any effect - his calmness in matching four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Team Ineos) in an explosive run into Leeds spoke volumes - Thwaites had suffered technical problems on the 175km run from Halifax.
Thwaites’ disappointment encapsulates the transformation of Pridham’s team, when 12 months earlier many of her selections for the Tour de Yorkshire had seemed relieved merely to have finished.
This year, McGlinchey fought almost to the last breath to hold off the peloton until 4km to go on stage two, before Mottram matched him for courage and tenacity with his own breakaway effort a day later.
"How Chris didn't win the combativity award after his performance on stage two, I don't know, and I'm so proud of Mikey for making the most of his opportunity on stage three. I think at one point he was the virtual leader of the race," Pridham said.
"I always tell the lads, 'Make the most of being out front, because you never know what's happening behind,' and I''m delighted to say that both Chris and Mikey did that. Adam Kenway was close to joining the break on stage one, but it just didn't quite happen for him. All the lads rode above my expectations."
Vitus Pro Cycling Team, powered by Brother UK will now enter a vastly different phase of the season with confidence high. The Tour Series, a televised series of hour-long crit races, held over a two-week period in town centres up and down the country, will offer Pridham a new set of cards to play.
Ed Clancy OBE, a serial winner in the Tour Series, was a spectator in Leeds, performing an ambassadorial role befitting a triple Olympic champion. Over the course of the next two weeks, however, the Yorkshireman is likely to provide a reminder of his value to the team on the bike, as a world-class rider and ferocious competitor.
Tour de Yorkshire 2019 - Final General Classification
1) Chris Lawless (Team Ineos)
2) Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team)
3) Eddie Dunbar (Team Ineos)
4) Alexander Kamp (Riwal Readynez Cycling Team)
5) James Shaw (Swift ProCycling)
6) Matt Holmes (Madison Genesis)
7) Tom Jelte-Slagter (Team Dimension Data)
8) Scott Thwaites (Vitus Pro Cycling Team, powered by Brother UK)
9) Connor Swift (Madison Genesis)
10) Nick van der Lijke (Roompot-Charles)