Vitus Pro Cycling Team, powered by Brother UK finished the 2019 Tour Series third in the final team standings after banishing illness and mechanical misfortune suffered in the early rounds to deliver strong performances in the closing races.
Freddie Scheske’s victory in Salisbury, a round in which Cherie Pridham’s men also claimed the team prize, was the highlight of their 2019 Tour Series campaign, and evidence of a team ethic that had helped them weather events beyond their control and fight back to win.
Chris Latham followed Scheske’s heroics in Salisbury by finishing second in the closing round at the Brooklands motor racing circuit in Surrey. His performance, on a night when he also claimed the Brother UK Fastest Lap Award, helped seal third place for the team in the final overall standings, behind winners Canyon-dhb p/b Bloor Homes and runners-up Madison Genesis.
It was Scheske however who emerged as the star of the series. His solo victory in Salisbury will live long in the memory of the thousands of people who packed the cathedral city to witness it, but was not entirely unexpected. In Aberdeen, he had got up off the ground to finish second, after crashing from a three-man breakaway.
The German’s route back to the leaders in the Granite City was made doubly hard by backmarkers. Pridham said that while the experience was frustrating, it had not prevented Scheske from producing “the ride of the series”.
“There was a bit of a no-no, where a rider who was going to be lapped got involved in the chase a wee bit, and I think that did hamper Freddie and made it harder for Freddie to get back to the break, but what a ride. It was, if anything, the ride of the series for me, and just showed how much potential he has.”
Pridham described the 23-year-old as “a little star” and praised his commitment as a rider prepared to give everything to the cause of Vitus Pro Cycling Team, powered by Brother UK.
“Freddie is a bike racer. He wants to get stuck in. He rolls up his sleeves and gives 110 per cent. I’ve never seen a bike rider in so much distress after finishing a race, because he’s left it all on the road. He’s in agony sometimes, but as a team manager, that’s the level of commitment you what you want to see.”
The team will enter the next phase of the season with spirits raised. After a series of outstanding performances at the Tour de Yorkshire, and having proved their ability to win in the dramatically different environment of a crit race, the men in red will continue their quest for Tour of Britain qualification with renewed confidence.
The HSBC National Road Series will resume in June with three races, including two new events: the Tour of Lancaster on June 9 and the Circuit of the Mendips a week later. A busy month will close with the established Tour of the Reservoir, a two-day race that will take the team back to the North East, after April's East Cleveland Klondike GP.
Scott Thwaites gave an early demonstration of his pedigree at 'the Klondike' and Pridham does not underestimate his importance to the squad now that the Tour Series has finished and road racing will begin again in earnest.
"Scott is a road racer at heart." she said. "He can ride a good crit, but his focus is on the road, and we need to use that strength to our benefit."
Tour Series 2019 – Team Classification – Final Standings
1) Canyon-dhb powered by Bloor Homes – 65 points
2) Madison-Genesis – 61 points
3) Vitus Pro Cycling Team, powered by Brother UK – 54 point
4) Ribble Pro Cycling – 51 points
5) Saint Piran – 46 points
6) Bike Strong KTM – 33 points
7) SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling – 14 points