Vitus Pro Cycling Team, powered by Brother UK launched their season with a strong showing at the 58th edition of the Eddie Soens Memorial handicap race, despite the windiest conditions many of the riders had faced.
Eddie Soens Memorial Cycle Race - 'A good start'
The Vitus Pro Cycling Team made an impressive UK debut by securing fourth place for Deins Kanpejs at the historic Eddie Soens Memorial Cycle Race
The Latvian powerhouse proved himself a force to be reckoned with in only his second race on British soil, and can consider himself unlucky to have been on the wrong side of the leading group when Jon Mould (JLT Condor) launched his race-winning attack.
Cherie Pridham’s young team played a leading role in the 57th edition of this event, held on the motor racing circuit at Aintree; a 1.6-mile course, situated within the grounds of the famous race course on which the Grand National is run.
Pridham said she was disappointed not to have placed a rider on the podium, but “very pleased” with the commitment shown by her squad, and satisfied with fourth place after a solid team effort.
“The guys committed themselves early on with some super work, and special mention must go to Andy Shackel and Leon Gledhill. We were disappointed not to reach the podium, but Deins and Julio Amores are learning the British way of racing – fast!”.
Vitus Pro Cycling Team fielded a six-man squad for this 50-mile circuit race, that included Josh Hunt and Adam Kenway, as well as the aforementioned Amores, Gledhill, Shackel and Kanpejs.
Kenway, the 2016 British hill climb champion, was instrumental in driving the early pace, and later in joining the race-defining split. Responding to a scenario that would decide the ultimate outcome, he swiftly agreed a strategy with Kanpejs.
“We had a chat and I said I'd do some work at the front, whilst he sat back and policed the moves. Unfortunately, he was just on the wrong side of the group when Mouldy [Jon Mould, race winner] went,” Kenway told Larry Hickmott.
“Deins went after him, but just couldn't close the gap, and so I spent the last two laps trying to bring the leaders back."
Kanpejs described his new British team-mates as very helpful, adding that he hadn’t known what to expect of a race whose previous winners include Steve Cummings (Team Dimension Data), the reigning British road and time-trial champion.
"It was a good race and I did not know before the start what to expect here,” Kanpejs told Hickmott. “I didn't know who was in good shape here, who was fast and so on. That was a big surprise for me when watching what the riders were doing.”
The Eddie Soens Memorial presented a very different challenge to that faced by the team a week earlier in northern France. Vitus Pro Cycling Team had made its debut in the GP de Lillers, a UCI 1.2 race, previously won by Robert Millar.
Kanpejs again impressed, this time in brutal conditions that saw the team suffer a series of punctures. Mechanical misfortune hit the Latvian in the closing stages of the race, a time when Pridham believes he was riding strongly enough for a top ten finish.
She also praised the efforts of 18-year-old Tim Torrie, whom she believes would have finished his first senior international race, were it not for a puncture. Illness prevented the talented teenager from racing at the Eddie Soens Memorial, and Pridham is mindful of the need to carefully nurture such a young talent.
The Vitus Pro Cycling Team will return to action in two weeks time, when the men in red roll out for the Coalville Wheelers road race on Sunday April 25, 2018.