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Brother UK Cycling Podcast – Episode 2

Episode description

Episode two of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast continues a detailed discussion with Dean Downing, the former British Circuit Race Champion and British Madison Champion, now a sought-after coach. 

Dean shares more stories from his riding career, including his most cherished victory. He offers his thoughts on the challenges faced by the domestic road scene: the structural and

financial issues that have caused long-term instability. He reflects too on the recent slew of race cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The influence of former team manager John Herety on the development of Dean's career as a rider and later as a sports director is another topic discussed in detail. Dean also reveals the financial and emotional challenges of recovering from a hit-and-run accident at the very start of his second career as a coach, manager and brand ambassador. 

Co-hosts Timothy John and Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK, are joined by Larry Hickmott, the founder and editor of VeloUK.net, for this fascinating conversation with one of the most successful riders in a golden age of British road racing. 

Please note, this episode was recorded before UK Government measures to enforce social distancing. Brother UK strongly endorses the government’s advice and urges listeners to this podcast to #stayhomesavelives.

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Episode 2: Dean Downing Interview – Part Two

Episode contents

  • 00.03 – Introduction
  • 01.40 – Welcome to part two
  • 01.57 – Part One: Coaching Ben Tulett and Alice Barnes
  • 11.40 – Part Two: Fixing British Cycle Sport
  • 33.58 – Part Three: Winning The Lincoln Grand Prix
  • 38.40 – Part Four: Retirement
  • 47.52 – Part Five: John Herety 
  • 55.35 – Part Six: Hopes for 2020 
  • 1.03.19 – Part Seven: Social Shoutout
  • 1.04.11 - Part Eight: Reflections

Episode 2: Dean Downing Interview – Part Two

Timothy John 

"Hello and welcome to the new Brother UK Cycling Podcast with me, Timothy John, and my co-host Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK, better known to the cycling community as Road Phil. Phil, good to see you." 

Phil Jones 

"Thanks, Tim. I’m really excited that we’ve got this podcast together at long last where we’re really going to dive beneath the surface of what’s really going on in the road cycling scene, bring some of the best riders, the best managers and the best personalities behind the sport, get them in the studio and start telling the story of why this sport is so great in the UK." 

Timothy John

"Coming up in today’s show: Dean Downing, one of the most successful domestic road riders of the last 15 years and now one of the most sought-after coaches in all professional cycling." 

Dean Downing

“I was involved in a hit and run. I bust my cruciate. I bust my medial. It put me immediately out of work. It was on the Friday. I’d planned a weekend of working, but I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t do all of the contracts that I had. I had contracts making videos, doing coaching and all sorts. Everything stopped. I didn’t work for six months."  

Timothy John

"And Larry Hickmott, the founder and editor of VeloUK.net." 

Larry Hickmott

“Having races and organisers who are willing to make the effort, I think that’s key. Without the bike races, especially the Premier Calendar-type races, we haven’t got a sport.”

Welcome To Part Two

Timothy John

“Welcome to the second part of our interview with Dean Downing, one of the most successful domestic riders of the last 15 years. We’ve already heard about Dean’s successes as a rider in Belgium, but there’s a lot more to come, including his early success as a coach with some of the brightest stars in British cycling.”

Dean Downing

“It would have been 2006, 2007 timeframe. I was riding with the Rapha-Condor team, and I was out in Lanzarote, at a training camp with Malcolm Elliott, Andy Cook, at the beginning of January. I met Alistair Tulett. I met Ian O’Hara. I met Guy Andrews, the editor. They were all friends. They all raced together in the south as elite and first cat riders. 

“I got on really well with Alistair and Ian and Guy. I used to go down and stay with Alistair and his wife Cath and the boys, Dan and Ben, who at that time would have been about seven and five, burning around the garden on their bikes and doing little ‘cross races through the summer or little criteriums at Herne Hill. So that was when I met Dan and Ben, as five and seven-year-olds.

“Fast forward a few years when Dan and Ben started winning under-10s, under-12s, under-14s, under-16 British championships. I’d see the results, on Larry’s website, more than likely,

and ring up Alistair to say: ‘Well done.’ Alistair said: ‘Ben’s got a mobile now,’ so I’d send him a message.

“We used to go and watch them when they were around our area. The main tipping point was when me and my wife Katy went to see the Tullett family in Bradford: the ‘cross race in Peel Park. Ben and Dan were racing. Ben finished second, I think. I just got chatting to Alistair. I was working with TrainSharp at the time. 

“Ben would have been 15-and-a-half then, I guess. Yeah, he would have been 15-and-a-half. He was just training all wrong. He loved going fast on his bike, but he’d train with older riders and get really tired. He’d have a week off riding his bike because he was so tired.

“I’d say to Alistair: ‘I’d love to work with him. It would be great to structure his training.’ He’d just got a power meter. He didn’t know what it meant. I’d structure it around his school work,

because that was what he was doing at the time. He was that age. 

“So, yeah, we just started working together. That was the start of it. We worked together for a year, through his last year as a schoolboy and into the junior ranks. We just hit it off. He knew who I was from my racing days. Ben was very respectful of what the pro racing is. His knowledge of the highest level of pro racing, the Grand Tour races and stuff, has been really, really good ever since he was a youngster. 

“So, yeah, we worked together from that point and in 2018 he became the junior world cyclo-cross champion and then again in 2019."

Timothy John

“Can you put into words how satisfying that must be: to see a kid that you first met at the age of five, and you  are then coaching as a junior, go on to become a world junior cycle-cross champion?”

Dean Downing

“The night before…Me and Alistair…The world championships were in Valkenberg and they live down in Kent, so I drove down. Me and Alistair jumped in his car and drove over. We went into Valkenberg for something to eat, saw some people and then I didn’t sleep one wink the night before. Alistair was nervous as well. I was so nervous. 

“I knew he could do it. We’d been training for the course. He’d been doing skill sessions. I knew his power data. I knew what he could do, how long he could hold an effort for. That was

what we’d worked on, so when he did it, it was quite emotional. It was an unbelievable feeling for him to do it. 

“The second time he did it, it was very nerve-racking, because we knew he could do it, but he’d had a big injury during the winter. He bruised his knee - his patella bone - on a plank that he'd been crashed into. That was a big step along the ups and downs of working with any rider. 

“But the second time he won it was even better, I’d say. One of the best days of my coaching career, that’s for sure, seeing young Ben Tulett, who I’d known since he was five-years-old, win a world championship.”

Timothy John

“The other huge star in your quiver, so to speak, is Alice Barnes, and I think anyone who’s met Alice is impressed by how calm she seems the whole time.”

Dean Downing

“Always, yeah.”

Timothy John

“What’s it like to work with Alice, and where does her talent lie?” 

Dean Downing

“She’s slowly becoming one of the best in the world. She’s been a great cyclist for a long time. Again, she’s come from that…Her parents have been so supportive. Her sister, Hannah, has been one of the best riders in the UK and the world for a long time now. 

“Alice was the same [as Ben]. She came from a mountain bike background. She was a cross rider. She was doing circuit racing from a young age. She slowly became better each year

at the racing she did. 

“I met the Barnes family through meeting the Tuletts. I’d had meals together at their houses. I knew Alice a little bit, but she was always very shy. I’d say hello, but not really chat about much when we were at the Tuletts’ house, for example.

“But I met her at the Newport Nocturne. I was in the pits, and she was stood there watching her boyfriend, Ollie Wood, just talking about coaching. I said: ‘Hello, Alice. Do you do anything with power?’ She said: ‘Oh, I’ve got a power meter, but I don’t really look at it.’ I was like: “Really?!'”

“It just amazed me that she was racing with world’s best, and she knew [only] bits about power. I was like: ‘Well, you’re obviously a bloody brilliant bike rider.’ 

“And then - I’m pretty sure she rang Alistair or Ben or someone like that - and rang me and asked what could we do together. I had a meeting with her parents at the worlds at Innsbruck. I told her how I coached and what I liked to do and said it would be great to work together, because she’d kind of self-coached. So we decided to give it a go. 

“She’s so talented that she got straight into working hard. She’d already worked hard. She knew exactly what she was doing, but she needed people to look at…or somebody to tell her

when to back off, when to not panic, when to chill out, when not to panic, because the confidence is there, the training’s done. 

“So, yeah, in my opinion, that’s what we’ve done together. She’s got a lot of people around her that help her. She’s on one of the best teams in the world. She’s got people at British Cycling who help her with other things, like strength and conditioning, so I’m just a very small part of Alice’s journey, but it’s a pretty cool part to see her win the nationals."

Phil Jones

“I’ve got a little Alice Barnes story as well, actually, We sponsored Drops for a season when Alice rode for Drops. We were invited out to their training camp by Bob Varney. I went out and, of course, trying to chase Alice Barnes up a mountain was not easy. I got dropped after about 150m. The whole team went rocketing into the distance as I spectacularly blew up. 

“But I remember one day with particularly bad weather. We’d been out on the road for a couple of hours, and Bob said: ‘We can call a time out here. If you want to roll back, everyone, we’ll regroup. The weather looks better tomorrow.’ But Alice didn’t. She said: ’No, I’m not,’ and went and did another three hours on her own, and the conditions were horrible. I just

thought: ‘That is a winning mindset.’

“The conditions were horrible, but off she went. I thought: ‘I’m really, really impressed by that.’ Of the two, Ann-Sophie Duyck, who was the Belgian time-trial champion, and Alice were the two who said: ‘No, we’re out here to train. We’re training.’"

Dean Downing

“Yeah, she generally just capes up and gets the training done. She lives in the Manchester area, so she just capes up and gets it done."

Phil Jones

“I often see her in Tatton Park, actually. I ride a lot of the roads around Cheshire. Quite often, I’ll see her out training. You just think: 'Wow!' Cheshire’s pretty good for that. Lots of BC people.”

Dean Downing

“You race in the rain, so why not train in the rain? You’ve got good enough kit these days. The training that we talk about together and plan together, she gets it done. She’s great to work with. She’s no hassle. Maybe we’ll ring each other every now and again. We WhatsApp each other. She gets the training done. She comments. She hits all the numbers. 

“With Alice, her confidence is not always 100 per cent. When she won the time-trial, she smashed it. I was at the side of the road, watching her about to set off. Andy Paine was following her: a friend of mine from the OnForm team. He said: ‘Jump in.' Simon and Sue were in there too, and I got to follow Alice as she rode towards [winning] the national TT

champs with her parents in the car. I thought: ‘Brilliant.’

“When I knew the times and had seen how fast she was on the course, [I couldn’t believe] how blasé she was, having done the ride of her life to become British champion. But she’s not super confident all the time, and that’s where a good relationship comes in: to tell her that she’s done this, that and the other, and to be confident.”

Timothy John

 “Well, you’ve had some pretty good days in office, Dean, already in your coaching career with Ben and with Alice. 

“I wanted to take the conversation in a slightly different direction, if I can. The reason is that we’re discussing layer upon layer upon layer of British talent at domestic level. Larry, you’ve got a much clearer view on this than any of us because you see it week in and week out. You’re at damn near every race that’s held. 

“From Grand Tours to Premier Calendars, there is so much riding talent at the moment in British cycle sport, it’s untrue, whether we’re talking about Chris Froome, Alice Barnes, Sophie Wright, whoever. It’s world-class, from top to bottom, and yet we find ourselves, in the domestic sport at least, with a scene that seems to lurch from crisis to crisis. 

“We’ve got some pretty decent talking heads around the table here. Dean, you’ve spent your life in the sport. Phil, you head a business that is the sport’s major sponsor, and Larry you

watch it from the roadside, week in, week out, and report upon it. 

“So, it’s a big conversation. Let’s try and keep it succinct. Dean, in your view, where is the structure of the sport at the domestic level going wrong at the moment, and, if you had a magic bullet, a single solution to put it right, what would that be?”

Dean Downing

“What a question!”

Timothy John

"No pressure!"

Dean Downing

"Yeah, no pressure! 'Answer in 3, 2, 1, Go...'

“I feel it’s slowly gone backwards. The likes of the 2008 to 2012-14 era was very good. I was fortunate enough to compete in that era. Several teams, several full-time bike riders being paid a wage. Great races in the UK. A good calendar. Also, mixed in, racing aboard: Europe, Asia, US, whatever. That’s not there now. 

“The UK calendar has slowly dwindled away over the last five years. Teams have been lost. There are now four UK-registered pro teams. There aren’t races for them in England. That drives those teams abroad. I saw at the weekend, the four pro teams were racing abroad. Ribble-Weldtite had just come back off camp, but they had raced abroad, at the UAE Tour. There’s no big races for them to do [in the UK].

“We had 12 or 14 Premier Calendars in that era [2008-14). That’s days of racing. We had some stage races which were two days long; three stages. You had races from March through to August, every week or every other week, whichever you were able to plan for. 

“Just from own knowledge of reading through the websites, there’s been no calendar published from British Cycling, the governing body. That’s not good. As a team, you can’t plan to race in the UK when you don’t know what races there are. You plan to get your riders ready for the big races that you do know will happen. The UCI races: the Tour de Yorkshire, the Tour of Britain, RideLondon. These are the big races that the riders want to do. There are the French UCI races that Vitus have done, too. 

“They get invitations to those races in the winter, at the start of the year, so they accept them. If that clashes with a UK race that’s come out late, whose fault is that? Its British Cycling’s

for not getting the calendar together. 

“That’s the only thing that I see. Magic bullet? Not so sure whether it’s funding or support for organisers that can’t get the funds together for the rising costs of traffic management, for example. Police? A lot of races over the years have fallen away because of the highways changing. Courses have gone because of speed restrictions, speed bumps, so you can’t use that course anymore.

“The Archer GP, the Essex GP….all of these big races that we talk about are just not there anymore. The reason being? I have no idea.. Maybe it is councils and funding. We could

continue with this conversation for a long time. It’s a huge hole.” 

Timothy John

“It’s a huge topic and a complex issue, and I would like to state on behalf of the podcast and myself that we do not underestimate the complexity. We hope in the next few weeks to be speaking to [British Cycling's newly-appointed Elite Road Racing Manager] Erick Rowsell. I don’t think anyone would question Erick’s sincerity."

Dean Downing

“He’s got a big job to do, hasn’t he? But I feel that Erick…I mean, I know Erick to say hello to, but I don’t know him that well. He’s got a big job, but he’s potentially the right guy to do it because he’s had the experience of racing abroad as a young rider and as a good rider. He’s raced a whole calendar in the UK with Madison Genesis, and some of the big races in Europe with Endura Racing, so he knows what bike races look like: what they should look like, what they shouldn’t look like and where you should take them etc. 

“Now he’s turned that around to being fitted into the BC organisation. He’s got a big job on his hands to turn everything around. It will be great to listen to that one: what his plans are

and what British Cycling’s plans are. He’s in the melting pot."

Timothy John

“I think everyone would welcome Erick’s appointment. He is, as you say, exactly the right guy for the job. I hope that I haven’t been glib or reductive here in saying, ‘Well, what’s the problem? Give me a solution.’ I think every body around this table is aware that it’s a hugely complex problem and varies from road closures right the way through to sponsorship and teams taking responsibility for that sponsorship and generating return on investment, which gives me a rather nice lead in to Phil!”

LAUGHTER

Timothy John

“Brother has been in domestic cycling now for knocking on the door of a decade: eight or nine years. It sponsors four teams, three major races, a fleet of neutral service vehicles, but you’re not there out of goodwill. You’re there for serious business reasons: that British cycle sport generates a return on investment for Brother UK. 

“Tell us about that, Phil, and how perhaps more organisations can recognise that by coming into the sport (and you actively encourage other sponsors into the sport, I know). Tell us how

bringing other players to the table can help turn the corner and build a sustainable future for this sport that we love.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, it’s really interesting. I get that many approaches for sponsorship, you can’t imagine. And from across all sports, actually, whether it be rugby or football or whatever. Over our history at Brother UK, we’ve sponsored Premier League football with Manchester City. We’ve sponsored Formula One. I’ve been all over the world watching Formula one races. 

“We know a lot about sponsorship. The first thing to recognise, when someone is coming and shaking a bucket at you and saying, ‘Can I have some money, please?’, is that a sponsor is not a charity. There’s a difference between a charitable donation and a sponsorship. With charity, you’re giving something, and you’re not expecting anything back. With

sponsorship, you’re giving something, and you are expecting something back, fundamentally.

“One thing I’ve realised about this sport is that it’s sort of stuck at the moment. It’s stuck. The teams are running on fumes. There’s a lot of goodwill in this sport. Dean, if I look back to the times when you were riding for JLT-Condor…."

Dean Downing

"Rapha-Condor-Sharp was one of the best teams, is the best team, that I’ve ever ridden for. But in that era, it had a great budget." 

Phil Jones

“A massive budget. A big motorhome. Everyone was earning good money."

Dean Downing

“A great programme of races to do, and John Herety at the helm. The sponsors for that three-year period were Rapha, Condor, and Sharp. We did so much, as riders, for the sponsors. That was always a clear objective on John Herety’s part: serve the sponsors. And that was relayed to us, what we were looking to do.

“In that time frame, we were racing in Asia quite. lot. ‘Why are we racing in Asia? Well, Sharp’s an Asian brand. Oh, right. That makes sense.’" 

Phil Jones

“If you think about that time….I was first getting into the sport. I would go to The Tour Series. I’d see John’s motorhome. I got invited on it once. I thought: 'Wow! I’ve made it! I’m on the motorhome!’' which was great. 

“But if you contrast that with now: there aren’t a lot of riders being paid. A lot of the backroom staff are not getting paid. They’re volunteers. Cycling is what they are passionate about, so

you’ve got a sport that’s being run mainly on passion. 

“You have us, who are around, but if we are doing sponsorship, we need some sort of return. Things from which we can measure a return will be whether people have unprompted recognition of the Brother brand when you say it to them or the amount of TV that we get. We can measure TV hours, and I get lots of clever reports that tell me how many hours of TV time equivalent that my brand has been on the telly, and I can compare that with what we would have paid for it, if I’d bought it directly from ITV or whoever it might be. 

“Actually, the sport works very hard for us. Our ROI is very, very good. But we’ve found out the ‘winning pattern’ to get that. We tried to come into the sport and earn our place, to some degree, rather than try and wallpaper the sport: just rock up and say, ‘Alright: logo here, logo there.’

“In the early days, it was the neutral service. That’s where it all started. Somebody said: ‘Why don’t we have cars like Mavic?’ You watch the Tour de France with all of these amazing vehicles with the bikes on the roof. I was like: ‘Where are they in the UK? Who does that?’ At the time, it was Tony Barry, who still runs the service today, using his own car with a roof

rack and a bunch of cobbled together bikes. Don’t get me wrong. It was good kit, but it didn’t look the part. 

“After a conversation with Tony, I thought: ‘We can professionalise this and make this look really good.’ I said: ‘If we pay for it, and we wrap the cars and put the bikes on the top, that’s going to lift this sport and make it look more professional.’ And if you do that then brands, large companies come to the sport when it looks professional. If it looks a bit amateurish, if it doesn’t quite really reach the mark, a lot of bands aren’t interested. 

“Where the sport is now, in a business environment that is post-Brexit and all this sort of stuff going on, there isn’t actually a huge amount of money going around in business for sponsorship. I think it’s important to say that, otherwise the sport would probably have a lot more money in it right now and other sports would have more money. Everyone is looking for more sponsorship right now, whether you’re an F1 team or a cycling team in the UK.

“Making a proposition to a brand is why it’s all about: ‘What can you do for us?’ At the moment, unfortunately, because there is so little money in business, the teams are surviving on not a lot which fundamentally means that activation, which is what brands often want - ‘How are you going to make this work for me?’ - there isn’t somebody whose job it is to do

activation. 

“If you go to Formula One, of course they’re running on budgets of billions. They’ve got teams of people whose job it is to do activation, but in domestic sport, and particularly in domestic cycling, there isn’t that person. We as a brand at the moment accept that we have to do a lot of this. We do a lot of this ourselves. We just use the association with the teams. So there is a way you can do it. You’ve just got to put the effort in, get to know the sport, and then opportunity will definitely knock for you.”

Timothy John

“Thank you. That is a very interesting insight and one that I think isn’t heard often enough. 

“Laz, you, as I said earlier, are probably closer to the sport than most of us around this table, given that you’re there at races, week in, week out, talking to the teams and the riders.

What are the big challenges that they’re telling you about? What solutions are you hearing proposed?”

Larry Hickmott

“I think there’s a lot of challenges. I think what Phil was saying about activation: a lot of it isn’t in the team’s hands. We had British Cycling, for example, withdraw coverage from Eurosport, which would be a big part of that activation, I would have thought. What we don’t want to see is the sport going backwards in that respect. It would be nice to keep these staple things going and then the money, hopefully, will come back. 

“There are a lot of things. I mean, the Tour of the Reservoir organiser Mike Hodgson is in his eighties. We talk about a lot of guys. Stuart Benstead, who was the organiser of the Archer Grand Prix, has sadly passed away. The age of the organisers and having people replace them, like Ian Emmerson was replaced by Dan Ellmore at the Lincoln Grand Prix. Having

organisers who are willing to make the effort I think is key, because without the bike races, especially without the Premier Calendar type races, we haven’t got a sport.

“The sport faces a lot of challenges. I think the coronavirus…There are a lot of challenges. The wages….Even a few years ago, NFTO…John was quite a measured payer, but there were some good wages to be had.”

Dean Downing

“Yeah, I was one of the NFTO guys. I spent my last year there. My wages were the best I’d ever had, because of what we wanted to do as a team, but as were Endura, as were JLT. Team UK Youth were there at that point. Pinarello: they’ve always had good riders, winning riders, across the board, so all riders were getting well paid, but that bubble burst a few years ago, for whatever reason, I’m not sure. 

“Yeah, it’s sad to see teams go like Madison, whom I was with in their first year. I was chatting to Rich Handley the other day at the Eddie Soens race. He was saying that nine of the 12 or 13 riders from Madison have stopped, retired, and these are guys in their mid to late twenties, and winners as well. They all won big bike races. 

“But [now] they can’t pay their mortgage. Going from being a £5,000 or £10,000 bike rider in the UK, they’ve come down the wages list. So money for riders is definitely an issue, but

there isn’t the sponsorship coming into cycling from outside of the sport to make the difference.”

Larry Hickmott

“The approach does seem to have changed now, whereby teams in your day: you were professionals, you were paid now for what you did in the UK. Now, the teams have riders who are looking to go WorldTour, which is why the UCI teams in this country, such as Canyon, such as Vitus, are going abroad, giving the riders the opportunity to impress, like Jacob Scott did the other day in Le Samyn, and hopefully, then get onto a team and get a proper wage."

Timothy John

“I think there’s a couple of things we can draw from the last five minutes’ conversation. The first is that this is a hugely complex issue. Given that we are the Brother UK Cycling Podcast and that Brother is the major supporter of domestic cycling, it’s a topic that we intend to revisit again and again because we’re able, hopefully, to provide a unique insight. 

“The second thing I’d like to say is that I think we can take some optimism from the fact that the golden era that we're discussing, of Endura Racing, Madison Genesis, Rapha Condor Sharp, NFTO is in recent memory. It’s so close, we can almost touch it. We’re talking within the last five years and so it’s not unreasonable to assume that that era can live again."

Dean Downing

“Yeah, it can be turned around, but a lot of young riders now don’t get on those four teams. We’re talking four teams. Canyon has 20 riders, but generally it’s ten. Forty or fifty riders. There are a lot of young riders of the quality to deserve a place on those four UK-based, UCI Continental-registered, race-abroad teams. 

“A lot of young riders just go abroad and race in France, Belgium and Italy on other teams. So it can turn around, but if there’s no scene for them to race in…They’re racing the

National Bs, local races. That’s what they’re going to be doing if they stay in the UK. It is a very complex issue. It’s a tough chat to have.” 

Phil Jones

“It’s interesting. At the Eddie Soens, I was in the neutral car. Larry was there. I saw Dean at the side of the track. There weren’t any of the big teams there, other than Ribble. Jacob Tipper won the race that particular day, but I did get an insight into why they weren’t there, and it was all down to delivery of the [British] race programme. Because they hadn’t got it and needed to get racing, in the absence of the domestic race programme, they all just went over to France or whatever it was." 

Dean Downing

“Was it Le Samyn? Is that how you pronounce it?”

Phil Jones

“Something like that. But that’s where they went, and I thought it was a pity, because the Soens is such a famous race. If you look at all the people who’ve won it over the years. I think it was one that evaded you, wasn’t it Dean?”

LAUGHTER

Dean Downing

“Yeah, I missed out three times, I think. But you’ve got female juniors, young male juniors racing against famous British pros over the years. I think one of the most famous winners was Steve Cummings. Josh Edmondson won it. My brother Russ won it a few times. Tony Gibb won it quite a few times. Chris Newton, Rob Hayles, Ed Clancy, Matt Botterill. Not me! 

“I had three coached riders in there. That’s why I went up there, to catch up with them and their parents. It was a shame that Ribble were the only UK-based pro team. They had everybody looking at them, but they worked brilliantly together. They raced really hard from the gun to catch Matt Bottrill, and Jacob Tipper won the race. So they worked really hard as

the pro team that was there. Other riders were abroad."

Larry Hickmott

“Of the 21 years I’ve done, this is the first year I’ve seen where the early-season British classics have not had pro teams.”

Dean Downing

“It’s a shame. The Jock Wadley memorial race was the same. There were no pro teams there. The Severn Bridges race was the same, and these are the staple races for the start of the season for UK-based pro teams. Riders are scattered all over the country. They’re not all in Manchester or Sheffield or in Kent. They’re all over, so they get to race wherever they wish, when they’re not racing for their team, so it is a shame when the pro teams in the UK have to go abroad, but….”

Larry Hickmott

“And now the coronavirus has taken the races off them. The Tour of Normandy is cancelled.”

Dean Downing

“Lots of races in Italy cancelled as well.”

Timothy John

“And in other circumstances, too, it’s not a foregone conclusion. I think Vitus went to Lillers last year, didn’t they, and the race was cancelled due to high winds, so there’s always an element of risk in racing abroad. 

“And, if we’re looking for a positive take on this whole thing, it was wonderful to see the Soens happen at all this year given how close it was to almost not going ahead.”

INTERLUDE

Phil Jones

“You’re listening to the Brother UK Cycling Podcast.”

Timothy John 

“The phrase that comes to mind when we think of the Soens in the context of your career Dean is ‘the one that got away.’ There weren’t many that got away from you on the domestic scene. You won most of the big ones. What’s the most satisfying domestic victory of your career?"

Dean Downing

“Domestically, it has to be Lincoln. It’s a wonderful picture, but it wasn’t about the picture. Lincoln is close to home for me. It’s about 35 miles from where I live. As a junior, I went to watch the Milk Race, which came to Lincoln and Michaelgate for a few years. 

“I went to watch the pros in the late eighties. Then I raced it as a junior as a GB track rider. I was fifteenth or something like that. I was on the cobbles and got caught up in a crash on

the last bit. I’d wanted to do better. The Lincoln GP at the point was one of the last races that my grandfather Cyril came to watch. A couple of years later, he passed away. 

“I rode in 2003 and was average. In 2005, me and Russ came back from the Tour de Bretagne, and we had a rest week. We were flying that day. We were first and second. We went head-to-head. Russ beat me, again!"

LAUGHTER

“So that was my first Lincoln podium, in 2005. In 2006, I was in Belgium doing other races, so I didn’t do it. 2007 was the Rapha Condor year. I’d come back from Belgium because I wasn’t enjoying cycling and wasn’t enjoying being in the team that I was with. I became an amateur cyclist again to lead the Rapha-Condor team.

"I’d had a good start, and that was when I won the Lincoln GP in 2007. I went head-to-head with Gordon McCauley in the pouring rain. I nearly messed it up again on the last climb, going over a drainage cap, and lost five metres in the end. But, yeah, all the emotions hit me at the end. Russ was third as well. I said: ‘I’ve done it. I can’t believe I’ve done it.'”

Phil Jones

“What were those emotions? Was it about your granddad? Was it about trying to win the Lincoln Grand Prix?”

Dean Downing

“Yeah, I’d been trying to win it. I can’t explain it, really. When I watched the coverage on YouTube, I think it would have been, it all came flooding back, watching it play out.

“The feed zone is just after one kilometre to go. I was on Gordon’s wheel. I reached down. I always wore a pendant, a medal from my granddad, from 1939: a time-trial win. I always wore it in a race. I go like this and kiss the medal and go for the finale and win the race. I was like: ‘Wow! This is crazy!’ And my whole family was there, as well."

Phil Jones

“So it was almost like he was with you that day.”

Dean Downing

"I think so, yeah."

Phil Jones

“I went over to the Lincoln for the first time last year. We were sponsoring Brother UK-Tifosi, and Becks Durrell won it. She’s got a bit of form there.”

Dean Downing

"Twice now she's won it."

Timothy John

"Back-to-back."

Phil Jones

“I took a bike down, and I thought: ‘I’ll have a go at that one. I’ll go up there a few times.’ I did it six times. I thought: ‘I’ll do it as many times as the race.’ Honestly, it’s a really horrible climb. How you guys keep racing up that, I just don’t know.”

Dean Downing

“It’s such a hard finish to any race. I liken it to the Classics of Belgium. It’s got everything: flatlands and crosswinds out in the sticks, a big main road coming back in, but it also has crosswinds, echelons, attacks before, into the rolling climbs leading into the cobbles and then back into the sticks. It’s got everything that you have in Belgium, like the Tour of Flanders when the finale comes: hill after hill after hill. It’s on a short, six to eight-mile circuit. It’s insane how cool the circuit is.”

Phil Jones

“And interestingly, that was another race that was nearly lost only recently. They had a major sponsors, I think, not renew, but Rapha have stepped in now and taken title on that. But that’s a really iconic, British race. Hearing what it means to you to win it is quite something. It’s a great example of the sport hanging by a thread, but [the Lincoln GP] has been saved, which is great, so we’re going to see people going up Michaelgate again in 2020, and long may that continue.”

 

 Timothy John

“It’s interesting how the dynamic of this conversation has shifted. We began, or at some point, we were talking about watts-per-kilo and power meters and everything else, but when, Dean, you’re taking about your victories and talking about this race, it’s very much in emotional terms, and sport does that to you, doesn’t it? You see those emotions that you don’t find in other areas of life. 

"Your victory at Lincoln, I guess, would have been the highest of highs, but let’s turn it on its head a little bit and talk about retirement and the emotions that you faced there. That must

have been a very difficult time. I think it always is for an athlete, isn’t it? It’s such a single-minded occupation. It takes up your entire life and then one day it’s finished.”

Dean Downing

“Yeah, I got asked this question a few weeks ago at the Yorkshire Awards by Tom Pidock’s family, by his mum, Sonia. It made me think: ‘Oh, right, yeah - I know the answer to this,’ because I am fortunate enough that I planned my retirement from stopping as UK pro.

“I was going to retire at the end of 2012. John Herety persuaded me not to. He said: ‘You’re not ready. Maybe have a change.’ So off I went and thought, ‘Right. I’ll have a change.’ The Madison-Genesis team came along. I spoke to Roger Hammond, Kellie Parsons, the guys at that team. So that was great for me. I had another year. 

“At the start of the year, I said to my wife: ‘Right. This is it. This my last year. This is a great team, and I’m going to do some good races. I can retire at the end of this year happy.’ I was doing other things. I’d qualified as a coach. I wasn’t coaching yet, but I was looking to do other things.

“And then half-way through the year, I met John Wood from the NFTO team on a training camp, and his team; friends of mine, as well. I told him what I was planning, He was like: ‘Oh,

come on, let’s get a team together. We’ll make this one big.’

“He was so passionate about cycling. You could see that from the three-year run that they had. It got bigger and bigger each year. He wanted to do it properly; pay the wages of the riders properly like he wanted to. They did great in races like the Tour de Yorkshire. [Adam] Blythe won the 2014 Ride London. 

“So that kind of changed, mid-way through 2013. I decided to go another year. But I said to them: ‘This is what I want to do. If you can do that, I’ll stop racing for Madison.’ So he signed up to the idea, and the idea was that I would stop as a professional bike racer, full-time, whatever you want to call it, in Sheffield, my home city, 10 miles down the road from where I live. Along with Marc Etches, my friend, that would be my last race. 

“I’d won the race the year before, or crossed the line first anyway. There were some issues with lapped riders. So I won the race in 2013, and that’s when I stopped, and through that

timeframe, I was talking to people in the industry, telling them I was going to retire.

“I ended up planning far ahead so that in 2015, when January 1 came along, I was working with Continental, I was working with the PolyPipe team as a DS, I was working with WattBike, I was working with TrainSharp as a coach. I had four or five paid contracts in front of me, all going on. My transition was pretty sweet, pretty nailed down, so I was pretty happy with that and everything was going pretty well until July when I was run off the road and everything just stopped, literally, in a heap on the road.

“I was involved in a hit-and-run that bust my cruciate, bust my medial, and put me immediately out of work. The accident was on the Friday, and I’d had a weekend planned of working. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t do all the contracts that I had. I was riding my bike. I had contracts making videos, coaching, all sorts.

“Everything stopped. I didn’t work for six months. I didn’t earn any money for six months. That put me in a bit of a spiral. But the retirement thing was all planned out, and then it wasn’t.”

Phil Jones

“That must have been a really, really difficult time. Talk to me about that. What happened? How were you?”

Dean Downing

“At the time, I was just in shock. I’d never, ever injured my legs before. Collarbones? Plenty of times. I’d broken both, but collarbones repair quickly, if you do what you’re told. You can still ride. You can get back quick enough. 

“But doing my cruciate put me in a brace for three months, then back riding, then rehab. Six months it took. I had a young family as well. Our boy Isaac, who’s five now, had just been born in 2014, so he was a year old. My wife was working. I wasn’t working. It was a really tough time of:  where was I going with this? I was outside of cycling and looking from the edge.

I wasn’t in cycling. I wasn’t around the races. I wasn’t able to work. I wasn’t able to get the contracts that I’d planned for, so they just fell away. 

“So it was tough on my mindset that I wasn’t able to provide for my family. Over time, I got more and more in tune with how I was feeling. An even bigger hit was that I was contracted with PolyPipe to make the team bigger, but the sponsorship fell through. 

“That was just before Christmas. It was absolutely dire, so who did I ring? Mr John Herety. ‘Anything you got for me?’; ‘Well, the budget’s all gone but if you want to come on as an assistant DS, work with me and Tim Kennaugh, then we can do that for you. You can probably look after The Tour Series with Tim, which will put you back in the public eye.' I was like: ‘Thanks so much, John.’ That rescued me massively. 

“All the way through 2016, I was so up and down because I wasn’t earning very much money. Bills were going out the window. Brown letters were coming in the post. It was a really

tough time, mentally and financially.

“I think it was half-way through 2016 that my wife noticed the signs of depression. She had been diagnosed with post-natal depression in 2014 after Isaac was born. She was coping fine [with my situation], but she saw the signs. 

“I went to the doctor’s for a check up, because I was 40. By the end of the check up, he’d diagnosed me with being mildly depressed, which was good because the signs were there, and I started that and spoke to John about it, and the journey kept going for another whole year.

“At the start of 2017, which was like 18 months [from the accident], I got a pay out from Leigh Day. They fought the case and won, and I got a pay out. People say money can’t buy you

happiness but when that cheque landed, it paid for a lot of debt I’d got into and took away all the pressure immediately, and I was able to move forwards after that. 

“So that was that period. I’ve been up and down since, and it’s still up and down sometimes.”

Phil Jones

“Dean, thanks for sharing that. Part of the question is that people outside of the bubble think your life is perfect. They probably think you earned a fortune and are sitting on a big cash pile after all those years, but the reality is that transitioning out of sport can be quite challenging for anybody.

“But when you’re also dealing with crippling injuries and the expectation of being the bread winner but you’re not, and all of this kind of stuff, it’s very, very easy to find yourself…”

Dean Downing

“It is hard. You’re talking about the UK pro scene, which has gone in cycles, and I was fortunate enough to earn a wage out of it and race all over the world with John Herety and other managers, but I retired from being a bike rider. I didn’t retire at 40-years-old to go and sit on a beach and live in a mansion. I’m just a normal, hardworking guy, so I had to find other work to do, and that’s what I’m doing now, but it took time to get there, and I’ve come through the other side.

“I had other things going in my last year. I was looking at coaching and working with events companies and things like that. My answer to Sonia Pidcock’s question was: younger riders

need to be doing something during their careers outside of being a pro cyclist, whether it be coaching other riders or things like that. 

“I’d planned. Ok, it didn’t go to plan exactly, but in the end, it’s turned around, and I’m still doing things other than being a bike rider. So that was my answer to Sonia’s question: try and find something else than just being a pro bike rider, because at the end of it, it stops. It can stop, literally.”

 

 

Timothy John

“Another big part of your career, Dean, that keeps coming up and going away again is this name John Herety. I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with John over the years, and that’s a podcast in itself.”

Dean Downing

“Yeah, you should get him on. He’d be brilliant at this. He’s been through the decades with British Cycling. He started the Academy, along with Rod Ellingworth.”

Larry Hickmott

“You talk about legends: he is an icon of the British scene.”

Dean Downing

“A hundred per cent, yeah. But again, he raced with all the best pros in the eighties as a young rider. But he’s been a massive influence on my career and on the careers of lots of people. We were chatting about how I picked up the phone and chatted to John, and he was a massive part, and still is, of Tim Kennaugh’s career. 

“In 2012, the Rapha Condor-Sharp team went from having big, all-winning riders to having a few mentors - myself, James McCallum, Kristian House - and some youngsters. Tim was one of those youngsters. 

“He was suffering for a couple of years with thyroid trouble. He was getting ill, training hard, getting ill, resting, training, doing well. He was up and down all the time. I shared a room with Tim Kennaugh at the first training camp of 2012, so I got to know him quite well. He’s such a character. Big into reading, big into learning, and John had given him a chance in that

team. It didn’t quite go to plan, because he was ill all the time.

“In the end, John and Tim talked about it. I think Tim did a qualification as a massage therapist, which was great. He did coaching qualifications too, so John was a big part of working with Tim to see what Tim’s journey could be. 

“Tim’s at Bahrain-McLaren now, and that’s some journey. He deserves every minute of it. Tim helped me when I was an assistant DS, talking about coaching. He already had his own coaching brand. And that’s all because of John Herety, and Tim would back that up, I would suggest.

"I could sit here for hours and talk about all the riders that John has helped: Kristian House, Tom Southam, Darren Lapthorne, Zak Dempster, who’s DS at Israel Start-Up Nation now. Tom Southam who’s at EF Pro Cycling. Charlie Wegelius, Hugh Carthy. You could just go on

forever. But for me, personally, he was just a big part of my cycling career.”

Timothy John

“Yeah, examine John Herety through the prism of Dean Downing’s career. You spent the majority of your career working with John, certainly the most successful part of your career, and you’ve given us really eloquent testimony about how influential he’s been. Can you give us a practical sense: what part of the John Herety philosophy are you able to incorporate when you’re working with your riders?”

Dean Downing

“John was always really good at being stern and telling people how it is and what to do, but also he could step back when riders weren’t feeling it or having a down day or something like that. I learned that because I was on the receiving end of it a few times when I’d done something wrong, so John telling me off or putting his arm around me, for example, and saying: ‘It’ll be alright. What’s going on?’ 

“So I do that sometimes with my coached riders. Not everybody needs that, but sometimes a rider will be moaning that they can’t do a session. I’ll be like: ‘Well, why can’t you do the

session? What’s happening? Are you being lazy or are you busy?’ John was amazing at that process of managing people. I’ve taken that from John, I feel.

“The other side is when riders don’t produce a great ride, and I’m there watching them when it goes pear-shaped. How do I approach that? I stand back and encourage the rider to talk about their emotions. I learned a heck of a lot from John as a manager, because he always had different types of riders: ten Labradors, then Alsatians, ten Rottweilers, then Poodles. It was always different. He was very good at working out those riders and, hopefully, I’ve taken that from him.”

Phil Jones

“Come on then, Dean. Share with us. What was the worst roasting you ever had off John? He must have dug you out about something, so what is that story? We’ve got the story of Sir Alex Ferguson kicking a football boot across the dressing room at David Beckham, so what is that story with John Herety?"

Dean Downing

“Gosh. I can’t…Oh, I had a big argument with John one year when Chris Newton led me out for the crit champs, but my gears failed. I was using Di2 at the time. Chris was saying: ‘Come on, come on,’ but my legs were just spinning.

“Ed Clancy won. We didn’t win. John was kicking off at me for not doing well. I kicked off back at him. I picked up the bike, and he said: ‘Yeah, go on then. Go on then.’

LAUGHTER

“I put it down. And he said: ‘Yeah, don’t even think about that,’ or something in that context. I picked it up, and he said: ‘What are you going to do with that?’ And I said: ‘I don’t know!’ and threw it down the road and smashed a helmet, but I was this close to throwing the bike on the ground because John was telling me off for not winning. That’s probably the one that sticks in my mind.”

Larry Hickmott

“Wining meant a lot to John, didn’t it?”

Dean Downing

“Yeah, yeah. Winning meant a lot to John and so it should, you know? He had a lot of winners through his squads.”

Phil Jones

“I think the sport is a worse place for not having him in it at the moment. He was a great character. A great personality. He knew all the other DSs. They respected him. He had a real presence in the pits. He was like the godfather, almost. All the others would come and kiss the ring because he was so influential in the sport.”

Dean Downing

“From a young age, he was always learning what he was good at. That’s what I got from him, from getting to know him. He worked at BC as the manager there. Then he was a DS and a manager of teams. He was always learning how things should be. That’s what he prided himself on, in my opinion: doing things right. 

“And if he had to change, he’d do it: getting the right sponsors together, get the right bikes together, riders. He’d always helped riders when they were down, which was good.”

Phil Jones

“I’ve got a great plan. Let’s see if we can get John Herety on the podcast. We’ll get you to text him, Dean, and get him in the studio. I’m sure that would be an absolutely fascinating pod.”

Larry Hickmott

“You might have to allocate a few more hours.”

Timothy John

“Let’s close with an optimistic take. We’ve talked about the challenges that the sport is facing at the moment, but we’ve also talked about the incredible depth of talent that there is at the moment in British cycle sport, and you in your way, Dean, are helping it to achieve its potential. What is it in 2020 that you’re most looking forward to?”

Dean Downing

“Personally, seeing how Ben Tullett does in the pro ranks. He’s probably the youngest Pro Continental rider that there’s been for a few years - he’s still only 18 - so that’s pretty exciting for me, personally. 

“But then also, from the riders that I work with, it’s just seeing them progress: whether they're racing in Belgium, Italy or doing the Ride London sportive, for example. 

“I’ve got one guy who started riding a bike one year ago. He’s 50-years-old. He started riding because one of his mate’s rode. He went a did l’Etape du Tour last year. He said he nearly died, it’s the worst thing he’d ever done, etc. etc. 

“But he’s a friend of one of my friends, who put me in contact. I’ve planned his training around work-life, his own business. He’s really great to work with because he’s so enthusiastic.

He’s learning about the history of cycling, and he’s going to watch a race in France in the summer. That’s pretty cool to work with.

“On the pro scene, Matthieu van der Poel is exciting to watch race. So big, big WorldTour races in 2020, it’s going to be exciting just to watch him. He was so exciting at the Tour of Britain last year. So, yeah, he’s the new rider.”

Larry Hickmott

“But there’s a few of them though, isn’t there?”

Dean Downing

“Oh, yeah, there’s a few of them. Remco [Evenepoel] as well. It’s exciting times in the world of pro cycling There are a lot of young and talented bike riders who are coming through and winning big races.”

Timothy John

 “So thanks, Dean. There are clearly some very interesting developments coming up at WorldTour level. You mention Ben Tulett, and it’s interesting that Ben is on the same team as Mathieu van der Poel. 

“Phil, give us your take. What are the exciting things you’re looking forward to in the world of cycling from a Brother perspective and from a personal perspective in 2020?”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, I’m just becoming very passionate about seeing this sport succeed in the UK. I just think it deserves to. One thing I can bring from business that’s really simple: sometimes the hardest times mean that a sport restructure itself positively. You can say: ‘Ok, there’s not so much money around at the moment, so what happens?’ And you can say: ‘It means putting together a better business model for the future.' Perhaps a more sustainable cost model, for example, can emerge.

“I always remember talking to your brother Russ about this podcast and some other things. He said something fascinating to me. He said: ‘ Look, this has happened before. The sport has been here before, and it’ll be here again.’  I thought: ‘Those are wise words from someone who’s been around a long time, saying let’s not panic.’

“We’ve got Erick Rowsell now gone into BC, and I met Erick the other week, and I’ve convinced him to come onto the podcast, which is great. He’s going to be a future guest. He’s got a

big job, but he’s arrived, and he looks like he’s passionate about sorting things out. We need to give him that space to try and do that. 

“There’s lots that he needs to fix. I looked at it and thought what he needs is a critical friend, someone who can put an arm around him and be constructive. So I think for 2020, one thing that I will be trying to do is to be constructive about the sport, not just moan about things, but go: ‘We are where we are. Where can we be in a year? Where can we be in two years?’ So in 2020, I’m excited to see the sport come through the slightly more difficult time now with someone who has the responsibility to sort it all out.

“Personally, of course, I’m just looking forward to riding my brand new Cherubim bike which I had made in Japan. It’s here now. I’m going to buried with it, so I need to get out on it more, once this wind stops blowing - I’m fed up with it. But, yeah, I think I’m looking forward to getting some miles in on the bike this year.”

Timothy John

“Laz, give us your professional and personal hopes for 2020, and when I say professional, of course, I’m talking about the sport. How are you hoping that it will develop in 2020?”

Larry Hickmott

“At the moment, we have a situation where the organisers of our major races are not happy with the way the transformation of British Cycling is going at the moment. There are have been a lot of changes. A lot of people have come and gone, so the appointment of someone like Erick, who Deano has said knows what a race looks like and what it should be like, hopefully has a great influence on keeping these organisers happy with what they are doing, because, at the end of the day, teams, riders, whoever, without organisers like the Lincoln organisers, the Tour of the Reservoir, Peter Harrison for the Beaumont Trophy: these people put in a lot of time, and I don’t think they get the recognition that they deserve. 

“I’d like to see people recognise them more for what they do, because it’s the old saying: ‘You don’t realise what you’ve got until it’s gone.’ I think Dean will agree with me on this. There were a lot of races back in the 2000s that we no longer see: the Archer GP, the Havant GP, etc. Races that Dean would have ridden. That’s all because the organisers have gone.”

Timothy John

“And on a personal level? It surely can’t be to cover more races, because that can’t be possible!"

Larry Hickmott

“On a personal level, the way the sport is covered is changing. Now, everything has to be done immediately, so everything is done live. For example, we had the national cyclo-cross championships, which weren’t broadcast live on TV, so that made my job a lot harder in trying to get the information out to everyone who follows me on social media to promote the race. The race needed promotion, because, again, I respect, in the case of the national cyclo-cross championships, people like Dave Mellor and his team, who'd put in a huge amount of work and had some horrible obstacles to overcome. And the riders, too, like Ben Tulett, like Tom Pidcock, etc. etc. It’s all about respect in my book. I want the organisers respected and, hopefully, people respect what I do too.”

Timothy John

“Great. Well, Larry, thanks very much indeed. Phil, thank-you for joining us, and, most importantly, Dean. Thank-you very much indeed for joining us and telling us about your career.”

Dean Downing

“Thank-you very much.”

 

Phil Jones

“We’ve covered a huge amount today, Dean, so one thing I think we should do is go: ’social shoutout'.

Where can people find you if they’re interested in hearing from you for coaching tips, or what you’re up to, or if they want to employ you as a coach? Where can people find you on social media?”

Dean Downing

“Downing Cycling. It’s literally that - @downingcycling - across all social medias: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. That’s the easiest one, because I control that, so just follow me on that.”

Phil Jones

“And, of course, please follow @velouk, which is Larry. And, of course, if you want to follow us, you'll find us @brothercycling, and myself @roadphil.”

INTERLUDE

 

Part Eight: Reflections

Timothy John

“Ok, so Phil, here we are, back in the studio. The guests have gone home. I really enjoyed that conversation. What are the bits that stick in your mind?”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, that was a cracking chat. I think Dean, even though I’ve come to this sport very late, that was always one name that I’d always heard: one of the Downing brothers would be visible. They were winning everything, whether it be a Tour Series round or the Tour of the Reservoir. The Downing name, you’d always hear it, so I think it was fascinating that we can have someone like Dean in the studio here, really just telling his story. 

“He had a long and successful career here in the UK and he’s one of the nicest blokes you’ll ever meet, as well.  Some people have massive egos. In sport, it’s easy to get a big ego, isn’t it, because that’s sometimes what makes a good sportsperson: that will to win, that real big personality, but he is just one of the nicest people.”

Timothy John

“Yeah, and I think particularly with Dean’s riding style - gladiatorial, a blood and guts type of rider, not afraid to dig deep, not afraid to go long; a crit specialist, of course, wheel-to-wheel action - you’d expect a guy like that to have an ego the size of a house. Actually, what a decent guy, what a thoroughly nice chap. Very modest, very humble. 

“And what a multi-faceted career. He qualified in construction, then went across to Belgium to start his racing career in earnest, then came back and dominated the UK scene for the

best part of a decade, now he’s bringing through the next generation of top British talent. He’s had a really varied career.”

Phil Jones

“It’s also great to see Larry. I came across Larry some years ago and thought, ‘Who is that guy?’ Wandering around the pits all the time, cameras all over him, motorhome. Everyone would say, ‘That’s Aussie Larry.’ He literally drives thousands of miles a month to bring us all the news about what’s going on in the domestic scene. When we’ve had BC being a bit absent for a while, without Larry, the scene really would have fallen apart because he is bringing us the results, the race reports, photography at the time of the races and all that good stuff. 

“We sponsor Larry. I’m not sure everyone knows that. But having seen the valuable service he provides, I just thought: ‘We’ve got to back Larry, too, in order that he can get around the country, because that motorhome he drives needs petrol, and he needs to get fed and all that kind of stuff. He really is a very, very vital component part of the UK sport.”

Timothy John

“I mean, he is UK cycling. He’s the heart and soul of the sport. It’s become a cliché almost - ‘the hardest working man in cycling’ - but it happens to be a fact. I can’t imagine how many hours Larry puts into VeloUK and into our sport.”

Phil Jones

“When I was at the Soens with Tony Barry, who has been around the sport about forty years, just hearing them chatting, I was like a by-stander. All of these stories: “Yeah, remember this in ’76?’ And: ‘Who was that rider in ’78?’ Both of them could just recall all these riders going back over decades and races that they’d been at. It was very educational and very fascinating. Today has just given me a really fascinating insight into both of their worlds. It’s been a really enjoyable episode.”

Timothy John

“It’s been a brilliant start, and I can’t wait to meet the next set of guests: Simon Howes, his partner Michelle, who keeps the show on the road, Rebecca Richardson and Adam Kenway who are stars in arguably the hardest of all cycling disciplines, the hill climb, which is ride-to-collapse. It will be wonderful to hear their stories too.”

INTERLUDE

Phil Jones

“If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, please hit ‘subscribe’.”

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