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Brother UK Cycling Podcast – Episode 22

Episode Description

Episode 22 of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast reflects on the National Road and Time-Trial Championships, the exponential growth of women's racing, Brother UK's comprehensive sponsorship of elite domestic road racing, and the 2022 National Road Series.

Co-hosts Timothy John and Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK, are joined by experts from the Brother UK Cycling family to discuss the battles from Dumfries and Galloway for the coveted 'stripes'.

Phil and Tim share a studio in Manchester with rider Daisy May Barnes (Brother UK– Orientation Marketing), Ian Watson, the manager of Team Brother UK–LDN and Tony Barry, the manager of Neutral Service p/b Brother UK. Their discussion dissects a thrilling championships. 

Daisy shares a view from the saddle on one of the hardest national road races for women in many years: one conducted in torrential rain and powerful winds. She celebrates the

strength of British women's cycling and reflects on the sporting opportunities now available to the UK's best female riders.

Ian Watson offers a manager's perspective on the same phenomenon. Widely recognised as the principal architect of London's thriving women's racing scene, Ian's insights on talent identification and development, the need to cultivate a culture of aspiration and inspiration, and to provide role models, parity and pathways, are worth hearing.

Tony Barry provides the ultimate insider's view, having driven in the race convoy for the men's and women's road races and time-trials. He describes the challenges of driving among fast-moving vehicles and riders and reveals how the commissaires determine the positioning of neutral service vehicles throughout the race.

Adam Kenway shares anecdotes from inside the peloton, including a series of encounters with all-time great sprinter, Mark Cavendish. He reflects too on the value of the National 

This episode of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast is the first recorded in a studio since the Covid pandemic emerged two years ago. Follow the @brothercycling social channels for news of forthcoming episodes. 
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Episode 22: 2022 National Championships Review

Episode contents

  • 00.02 – Introduction
  • 00.39 – Hello And Welcome
  • 01.28 – Part One: Meet The Guests
  • 02.10 – Part Two: National Road and Time-Trial Championships
  • 09.54 – Part Three: Neutral Service at the Nationals
  • 18.48 – Part Four: The Race Convoy
  • 21.59 – Part Five: Courses at the National Championships 
  • 28.51 – Part Six: Domestic Riders vs. WorldTour Riders
  • 35.48 – Part Seven: The Growth of Women's Cycling
  • 52.17 – Part Eight: Outro

Introduction

Timothy John

“If your passion lies in elite British road racing and you want an inside line on the teams, riders, organisers and sponsors that make this sport such a compelling spectacle, you’re in the right place.

“I’m Timothy John and joining me for every episode is my co-host, the Managing Director of Brother UK, Phil Jones.”

Phil Jones 

“Thanks, Tim. It’s great to be here. We’re going to use this platform to talk about all the key issues surrounding the sport. With special guests, deep dives into hot topics and plenty of chat, we’ll keep you informed about all things UK racing. Stay tuned!”

Hello and welcome

Timothy John

“Hello and welcome to this new edition of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast, where today we are back in the studio for literally the first time in two years. 

“Phil, you and I were here two years ago for the first editions of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast, and then something called Covid came along.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, it did, and this environment is far better for this sort of recording because we can see everybody. We can see bodily reactions, we can see pupils dilating, we can read the room a bit better. When we do this stuff remotely, it is more difficult, so I’m really pleased that we’re back.

"I don’t think when we recorded that one a few years ago, Tim, we realised that that was probably the first one and last one we were going to be receding for almost two years! So, yeah, amazing to be back and also here in the studio with our guests.”

Part One: Meet The Guests

Timothy John

“Absolutely. Well, let’s get onto those guests. We’ve got some wonderful people around the table. Let’s go left to right, starting with the lady in the beautiful dress sat next to me.”

Daisy Barnes

"I'm Daisy Barnes, and I ride for Brother UK-Orientation Marketing."

Timothy John

“And then the gentleman in the rather fetching pale blue team t-shirt.”

Ian Watson

“Hi, I’m Ian Watson. I’m the team manager for Team Brother UK-LDN.”

Timothy John

“And then then gentleman very much on-brand in the Brother-branded polo shirt.”

Tony Barry

“I’m Tony Barry. I look after neutral service in all the races, hopefully.”

Phil Jones

“I’m glad the cameras aren’t on today, Tim, because you and I are the two people who are not branded today, and I’m super delighted that all of our teams have come in in their t-shirts. I got a t-shirt today, but I don’t think I’m going to fit in it, Ian, with my lockdown weight. I’m still trying to knock it off.”

 
 
 

Part Two: National Championships Review

Timothy John 

“Well, the guests are certainly showing us the way today. 

“Let’s start with the National Road and Time-Trial Championships. There were some amazing races, some brilliant winners, and, in my opinion at least, the domestic riders more than

held their own against WorldTour opposition. 

“Where to begin? Daisy: we should begin with you, really, because you were there, you rode it,  you rode the time-trial, you took part in the road race. You seem to have dried out a little bit since then.”

Daisy Barnes

“Very, very wet. I’ll start with the time-trial. It was actually a lovely day. I actually got a bit of sunburn, which is hard to believe in Scotland, but it was lovely. I wouldn’t say it was rolling or hilly. It was grippy. The roads felt grippy. You had to be on the pedals all the time. It wasn’t technical. There were a few corners but nothing that you had to come off your extensions for. 

“So, yeah, it was a really good course. It felt quite fast to ride. I was really pleased with the speed that you could carry; even up the little climbs, you could carry your speed over them. It was very good. 

“It was really nice to see the WorldTour riders coming through on the podium, but I think from the domestic level, Lucy Gadd getting the third spot on the podium was really good to see. She’s had a really good season, so it was nice to see her finish it off at the nationals, and a very deserving podium spot. 

"The road race was really, really damp."

Phil Jones

“Damp? It was Biblical!”

Daisy Barnes

“I think any other day it would be a storm. The worst bit was that in the car on the way up, my mum said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s a southerly wind. It’ll be warm.’ I promise you it was not warm. There was not one bit of it that was warm. 

“I left my race cape on at the start because it was so wet. My  gloves were turning into a sponge. As we were riding along, I just kept squeezing water out of them.

“All I could think when we were riding, a few years ago, we’d done the Pimbo road race in really similar conditions, and Becky and I had said ever since, ‘It will never be as bad as that,’ but it was. It was worse.  definitely  don’t think I want to ride in those conditions again, because it was really wet.

“And to make it almost worse, the men had a really nice afternoon. It sort of dried up. I was watching it on the live stream, thinking: ‘Oh, what a lovely afternoon for them.’ 

“Obviously, that really shook it up, but ultimately that result, the way it’s gone, was very similar to last year at Lincoln: you’ve got that breakaway of the WorldTour riders. It didn’t form in

quite the same way this year. I feel like we had to fight for it a bit more.

“Christina was out the front for a couple of hours, so obviously a standout performance form her. Obviously, Sammie getting up there as well, and then Alice Towers off the front was really nice. She’d never won a road race, she said, and then to win a national championship was really, really good. 

“I think then after that we’ve got to look beyond the WorldTour riders and see how well some of the domestic riders did, because, actually, to get into that top 20, top 15 at a national championships as a domestic rider is super impressive.”

Timothy John

“Wonderful, wonderful racing from start to finish. Ian, you would have been there, of course, in the capacity of team manager for Brother UK - LDN. What insights can you give us from that brutally attritional road race?”

Ian Watson

“It was absolutely brutal. You get rain in summer - summer rain - but it really wasn’t summer rain, was it? It was like the middle of winter. It was cold, it was horrible, but everybody was in the same boat. 

“It was a really, really good race. As Daisy said, a breakaway formed in the end with what you would call the usual suspects, but what impressed me most was the that break went so late. It went so, so late into the race, and the domestic riders from teams like ourselves were in the thick of the action until the very end. In previous editions, the professional riders

would have had it more their own way, so I think it was a fantastic race from that point of view. 

“The bunch stayed together for quite a long time in what was a hard race in hard conditions. It wasn’t just the rain. It was the wind as well. 40mph guests. There was a long straight up to the feed zone, and there was a block headwind all the way up there. It was a tough old race, and everyone stepped up into the conditions. I thought it was a fantastic race.”

Timothy John

“What extra motivation, morale, determination does a national championships provide? Is it kind of like your FA Cup Final?”

Daisy Barnes

“A bit. I think there’s always a little bit of you that is dead chuffed to be there, and to know that, on a good day, you’re good enough to be there racing it. I think that’s one of the things this year for me is to enter a race and have the attitude: ‘I don’t just want to get round. I want to be part of it. I want to be part of the action, and to be in the action and you look to your right, and you’ve got Anna Henderson next to. 

“That’s a bit different, and I don’t think you get that at other rounds of the National Road Series because they’re off doing their own thing, and we’re doing our own thing. You’re suddenly following someone’s wheel, or Pfeiffer Georgi is in front of you. You think, ‘I’m doing alright because I’m surrounded by these people.’ It’s a little bit of a boost. You just think, ‘I’m doing alright,’ so, yeah, there’s definitely that extra bit of motivation. 

“It’s raced differently as well, because everyone is there for themselves a little bit more, rather than for the team, so it is raced differently, and that is quite motivating.”

Phil Jones

“I think that’s what also makes it great to watch as a viewer, because the dynamics of the race are so, so different.  The breaks forming and all that kind of stuff. It’s not quite a free-for-all, but it’s totally raced differently in a very, very good way. Everyone has an opportunity, in reality. For once, these WorldTour riders have only one or two of them on the road and there were some domestic teams lining up with six or eight riders in their starting line-up, so if they had a favoured rider, they could work for the them to some degree and put them in the best possible position.

“The other thing I thought was interesting about the race, patricianly the women’s race, of the number of starters, 126 riders started and 53 finished, and I think that say everting about

the conditions on the day. They were brutal and really, really difficult. 

“I went out on my bike the day before in some of those winds; just doing my miles around Cheshire. I thought, ‘Holy Smoke!’ I was absolutely broken when I got home, and how the males and the females raced in those conditions. I think the females got the worst of it, without a doubt: the wind and the wet. 

“I literally tip my hat to anybody who went up on that line on that day and began that nationals. It must have been quite something. It must have been a psychological battle, just even on the line, because you’re cold and some riders have a reputations for riding well in poor conditions; some who don’t go well in poor conditions and prefer it warmer. The race, I’m sure, had already started before you’d even rolled a metre of that start line.”

Daisy Barnes

“Oh yeah, definitely. I remember chatting to Sian [Botteley] from Brother-LDN. She said, ‘It’s ok. I’m alright in the rain. I know that, and I know that other people aren’t. I’m already a bit there. I know that I’ll be alright.’ 

“I said to you last year after Lincoln, where it rained from the start: ‘I’m alright, I’m alright. I’m from Cumbria. I’ll be fine.’ I know that some of the Scottish riders said: ‘Oh, it’s fine. This is what it’s like in Scotland quite a lot.’

“There’s definitely that element to it, because we’re l all stood in the car park. A lot of people probity didn’t even start. They would have said: ‘Do you know what? It’s not the day for me.

It’s not worth it. It’s not worth the risk of crashing.’ Or you could just get really cold. I think a lot of people were definitely defeated on the start line.”

Phil Jones

“And maybe that makes Alice Towers’ result even more impressive. I mean, 19-years-old, first elite road race, taking the national senior title and junior title in among a WorldTour field in those conditions: you add all those things up and go: ‘Now that was a very, very impressive ride. Absolutely incredible.”

Part Three: Neutral Service at the Nationals

 Timothy John

“One hundred per cent. I mean, talk about earning the national jersey. She’s earned every day in those stripes. 

“Tony, it would be good to get your insights, too. You were there as a neutral service provider.”
 

Tony Barry

“The winner was unbelievable. We were with the chasing group of about six riders, and they weren’t messing around. They were going for her. We even said in the car: ‘She could get caught here.’

“She did a super ride. There’s not taking it away from her.  That was a cracking ride and especially with her being under-23. She is a real talent for the future. Definitely one for Brother.”

Timothy John

“We need to get Alice on a Brother UK-sponsored team. Just on the mechanical side, Tony, were there more incidents, more punctures because of wet roads?”

Tony Barry

“We were expecting that because, normally, when it rains, flints come up and we expect more punctures, but it wasn’t too bad. And crashes. Normally, there are crashes in that sort of weather, and I think there were only a couple and all of them got up and continued, so there were no major incidents where you could say, ‘I crashed,’ or, ‘I punctured. ‘ There was less of that than normal. 

“It was similar in some ways to Lincoln. Last year, we had the nationals down at Lincoln, and it was the opposite way around. The men’s race was terrible in Lincoln. It was just like the women’s race in Scotland, in vertical rain and everything that you could say was bad for riding the bike but that’s what makes bike riders.”

Timothy John

“This is a different breed, Phil, isn’t it? These are tough competitors.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, without a doubt, and what’s interesting to me is that at the nationals there are there [neutral service] vehicles. We normally take two along to the National Road Series, so we had a third vehicle there, effectively. One thing I was talking about to someone on Twitter is the positioning of the vehicles. 

“I watched both races: every mile of both races, sofa surfing at home. It was fantastic. I was also watching where the vehicles were being positioned all the time: the neutral vehicles. You were moving up and around a lot. 

“I was explaining to somebody that part of that is your insight, but, ultimately, you are directed by the chief comm, and the commissaires on the road. Sometimes, people wonder where the vehicle is where it is. Sometimes, it could be at the head of the race. Sometimes, it could be right behind the lead breakaway group; sometimes, behind the lead vehicle in the

convoy.

“How busy was the chief comm to you on the mic during the race?”

Tony Barry

“It was quite funny, really because both events were done by different UCI commissaries. In the first race, what the commissaire wanted was two out front and one behind. In the second race, which was the men’s race, Dave, who was the commissaire on that one, wanted two behind and one out front, so it was the opposite. 

“I think the best one is two out front because you can always pull them back but it’s difficult to send somebody forwards, especially when the peloton is going. It just makes it a little bit

more difficult to get through. We do get through, but I think the worst part of bike racing is trying to go past a peloton that is big, and, if it’s moving, it’s just a line 

“It’s quite easy to get caught in the middle. I’m sure you have that, Ian, when you want to go forwards. I know I prefer not to do that. I would prefer to go out front and be pulled back, but, in the second race, the guy wanted us out front so we had to send another one out front. It depends how the race goes.’

Timothy John

“As a spectator, a nd what do I know, just watching the live stream, but hearing what you’ve just said, that seems like the right call. I remember watching you slot in behind the breakaway, which was the definitive break at that stage: tit was Cavendish, Watson, Richardson and Ben Turner, who later got dropped.

“But I remember watching you pull smoothly off the side of the road in behind that leading quartet and that by itself felt like, ‘Well, ok, this is the break that’s going to the line.’”

Tony Barry

“It was. It was quite funny, really, an item that happened with us. Early on, we had to change a bike as the rider’s bike had punctured both front and rear. We gave him one of our bikes and put his bike on the roof. As the race progressed, we eventually ended up behind the leading group, which was the four riders. They dropped one, and we went past him, so we were behind three leading riders. 

“When we went over the line, we got fourth, because we had his bike on the roof rack. His transponder registered that we got fourth. We were quite happy with that!”

Phil Jones

“Tony, wouldn’t it have been funny if you’d have podium-ed! ’Tony Barry goes up, takes the medal’. Wonderful. A glittering moment in your career, Tony.”

Tony Barry

“It would. We couldn’t get past them, though.”

Timothy John

“This is where the sponsorship money goes, Phil, isn’t it? Trying to get Tony on the podium at a national championships.”

Phil Jones

“Tony, it also reminds me from a technical point of view that the nationals is a complicated race for neutral service; it is. You’ve got the WorldTour riders coming to the UK. We’ve got all manner of group sets and gear ratios [to support], and some of the riders on rim brakes as well as on disc brakes, so the variety of kit that we’ve got to carry, particularly the wheels, in the vehicles, I’m thinking back to the Tour of Britain, is probably as complicated as the Tour of Britain, in terms of the inventory in the vehicles.”

Tony Barry

“I think it’s more difficult than the Tour of Britain as at the Tour of Britain, they all have a team car, whereas at the nationals, there are riders who don’t have team cars, or, like the Tour of Britain, they have two team cars, whereas we only have one in the nationals. The team car could be up with the break and still have five riders in the peloton. 

“A lot of them, some of the teams, don’t have the same bikes. We, more or less, have to deal with the 11-speeders and also the 12-speed - Campag, Shimano. Then you move onto discs. A lot of riders ride 160mm discs on the front; some ride 140mm, and you’ve got the same on the back end. Forget about rim brakes. There are people [still] with rim brakes. When we were on that, it was easy.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, much, much easier. I was certainly nothing that when John Archibald was pushing and active in the race, I saw John was racing on rim brakes. I thought: ‘Well, I’m sure we’ve got one on the roof somewhere.’ But I think if this carries on, we’re going to have to have a trailer behind the vehicle, Tony, with even more wheels. 

“From what I could see on the TV, and you don’t always see everything, but the vehicles didn’t look super busy, in terms of having to deal with technical interventions at the side of the

road, so was that your experience?”

Tony Barry

“Yeah, we were expecting it to be worse than it was, both the female and the male race, but there just didn’t seem to be the problems that we [usually] encounter.”

Phil Jones

“And how was the race radio on the day, Tony? Was the race radio busy?”

Tony Barry

“Well, we have two radios in the car: one which is the commissaire’s channel, and then there’s also Radio Tour. Normally, on the commissaire’s channel, they discuss it and say, ‘This rider has punctured,’ and then it will come through on Radio Tour, so we get it twice. 

“And also, on the commissaire’s channel, they will call us up, which has no bearing on what is happening on Radio Tour. Radio Tour is for all the teams, and that keeps them informed, whereas with the commissaire’s channel, we’ll get pulled in on things that are happening.”

Phil Jones

“Because I remember that sometimes a rider can feel frustrated because there isn’t a neutral service vehicle close to them but, actually, it’s not down to neutral service to decide that. It’s for the commissaire’s to decide, fundamentally, where they want you in the race, so if you’re called ahead, fundamentally, and there’s an accident way bending, it can lead to a rider feeling frustrated, but, ultimately, it’s not for them to come and knock at your door. It’s to go and knock at the door of the commissaires of the race.” 

Tony Barry

“One of the things that does get us, and it’s all the time, is that if we service a rider, the rider will expect us, or ask us: ‘Will you pace me back on?’ A lot of riders haven’t got the strength to do that, so we would be stuck back for a long while, out of the race and distanced from the ones that could possibly be winning. 

“What normally happens is, the commissaire at the back, he will give the rider the benefit of the doubt and let him see if he can hang onto us, or not hang on - I shouldn’t say that - ride behind us. He [the commissaire]  will then say, ‘We’ve had enough. Go forwards.’

“We normally tell the rider, ‘I’m sorry. I can’t stay with you any longer. I’m going to have to go forward.’ And you can see on the faces of the riders how disappointed they are, because if they’re well off [the back], their race is over.”

Part Four: The Race Convoy

Timothy John

“I think the race convoy is the bit that television just doesn’t ‘get’. I thought the coverage of the nationals was ok. There wasn’t enough information on the screen for me, just watching as a fan, and not enough motorbikes either, I didn’t think, but, generally, what we get on GCN is really good coverage. But it doesn’t come close to telling the story of the convoy, which is the race within the race.

“Until you’ve been in that team car, until you’ve been in that neutral service car, you’ve got absolutely no idea how fast, how dangerous, how competitive, how close the vehicles are to the riders; how everything relies; I think, on that sixth sense. The people driving the cars, almost without exception, have been riders. They know the drill. 

“How about you, Ian? Coming back to that that women’s road race: filthy conditions. You’re driving a car, and you’re trying to keep soaking wet riders motivated. How on earth do you go

about that?”

Ian Watson

“We don’t speak to them too much in the car because I would rather them stay in the bunch. What’s different…You might seem them in the Tour de France and things like that, where they’re dropping back to the car, but they’re on these nice wide roads, and going from there, but we’re racing on these little country lanes in the north of England. Getting up to the bunch and back is difficult. 

“We had one instance where a rider broke a shoe plate and called for service. It’s coming over the radio - “LDN, LDN”- and I can’t go anywhere, going downhill down these narrow country lanes. Eventually, we do get to her. 

“It’s absolutely white knuckle as you’re going through. You’re going past other cars, you’re passing other riders to get to your riders. It’s a tough job and very nerve wracking at the best of times. A lot of times, you’re in the convoy and you’re dawdling along and nothing’s happening and it’s a nice little jaunt in the countryside, but when you’re needed, you’re needed, and it’s a tough job.”
 

Tony Barry

“Taking your point, I’m glad the TV cameras aren’t there because some of the things that go on in that convoy are better off not seen. The commissaries have their work cut out. I mean, if I was a team manager, I would look after my team and do whatever I could to get them back into the peloton or whatever it is, but they do things that are not right, let’s put it that way.”

Phil Jones

“You’re a commissaire as well, aren’t you? You’re often the commissaire of a race yourself. You can see both sides. You’ve got the slightly independent view of neutral service, but, equally, there are other times when you’re the commissaire of a race where you’re seeing and hearing some of these things going on and then having to create a barrage and do all these things to make sure that the race remains fair for everybody competing,”

Tony Barry

“It is, and I remember when I used to go away with GB teams. You put a different hat on. You’re looking after your eight riders. ‘Forget about everybody else. I’ve got to get that rider back into the peloton.’ 

“It’s a different hat every time. Thankfully, people don’t see that. I know I shouldn’t say it: there are some drivers in the convoy who shouldn’t be there when you look at what they do, but maybe they could say the same about me when I was a team manager.”

Part Five: Courses at the National Championships

Timothy John 

“Let’s talk about the courses. Daisy, earlier you mentioned Lincoln, and I didn’t think this year could possibly live up to Lincoln, which is arguably the best race on the domestic calendar anyway, but it came pretty close, I thought.

“The men’s race was absolutely sensational. The women’s race was heavily affected by the rain, but turned into its own war of attrition, and It thought, in both cases, the course did a

good deal to promote exciting and attractive racing. Daisy, how was it from the saddle?”

Daisy Barnes

“You see, I love Lincoln. This is the thing. I love Lincoln. I think I love Lincoln more than that course at the weekend. I think the rain made it. I don’t think it would have been a war of attrition [without the rain]. It was a nice course, but there wasn’t a significant climb. There were nice country lanes, like you say, but Lincoln in something else. I don’t think we can compare at all. I think the atmosphere was still really good. It was a good course. It was rolling. There was a quick descent in it. A few corners. A little bit technical.”

Ian Watson

“I’d agree. What I liked about the course in comparison to others is that it had a little bit of everything. There was no signature hill or anything like that, which was good. It was a fairly rolling, and, with the wind, it just made for good racing, which is what you saw. It meant that the group could stay together a bit more and, with the wind, you had to use your head a bit more  where you ride and where you attack from and where you don’t. That’s what made for good racing. 

“The course was well thought out. From the recce, you think that’s not too bad. That’s what I heard from the riders; I was sat in the car. It wasn’t too bad, but I think on the day, with the conditions…Without the conditions, and just racing at race pace, it was a great course.” 

Phil Jones

“Did  you get the award for the furthest travelled to get to Castle Douglas? You would have come from London, wouldn’t you?”

Ian Watson

“It wouldn’t have been me.”

Phil Jones

“What’s that? Five or six hours?”

Ian Watson

“Dave from Bianchi comes up from Exeter. He does a lot more mileage than me. But then, St Piran, yeah, they do more miles than me. I think they’re only in their house a couple of days a year. They’re on the road all the time.”

Tony Barry

“You know, going back to what we said just then: what makes a hard race? The riders make a hard race. You can put a pan flat course in. People talk about Stockton being flat, but that’s the hardest circuit to ride. If those riders want to race, you’ve got a job on that day. 

“When the nationals were held there, when Adam Blythe won it, everybody was saying it was going to be an easy nationals. It wasn’t. They were doing 35mph most of the time. You are a worthy winner if you can hang onto that. Ok, you can have the climbs over the Trough and all that lot, but the riders make the race.”

Timothy John

“A hundred per cent. We see this on the WorldTour, don’t we? There’s this ongoing debate about long mountain stages, for example. The two best stages of the Giro this year were those two circuit stages. I mean, when do you ever see a circuit in a Grand Tour, and yet, they were amazing stages. You’re right. You can make the ludicrously hard courses but, as you rightly say, Tony, it’s the riders who decide how it’s raced.

“Let’s talk about the course for the criterium race because we’ve barely discussed the crit and, of course, we were all enthralled by the Tour Series. We were hooked on that because, of course, Brother’s teams are in it, and it was great racing this year

“And I thought the women’s race [at the national championships], and, Ian,  you’ll able to give me a proper insight here, I thought it was very similar to some of the rounds in the Tour

Series: Pro-Noctis, CAMS-Basso, Emma Jeffers. All the protagonists from the Tour Series were front and centre in the national crit race.”

Ian Watson

“Well, I thought it was a proper crit course, to be honest with you. I liked it. I mean, I love a good hairpin. A hairpin’s like your hill, isn’t it? You’ve got to go into it right, you’ve got to get your gearing right, and it’s about the exit, rather than the getting around it. That’s what it showed, and that becomes really attritional, which it did in that race as well. The riders just raced it from the gun, and they made it fast, and they made it an exciting race. I thought it was fantastic. A thrilling finish, as well. A bit of argy-bargy, but that’s what you’re going to get on that kind of course. I really enjoyed it, yeah. It was good.”

Timothy John

“I mean, the men’s race, Phil, you tipped Matt Bostock. You’d seen him live and direct in Manchester and at close quarters. That prediction turned out to be accurate. He looked the full package, didn’t he?”

Phil Jones

“Yeah. Matt Bostock, if you’ve been following the Tour Series, just looked strong in every race. He’s clearly hit a great vein of form. I think he would have been up in the leading group in the road race as well. I think he had a touch of wheels which took him out of that lead group, but I think he was naturally disappointed not to be there at the finish, honestly speaking. Maybe he could have contested that sprint with his current form. 

“With everything I had seen of Matt Bostock from the Tour Series, I thought: ‘He’s really got the form. He’s really there at the moment, really on point, and I think you would have had to really work hard not to have had Matt Bostock winning that particular national criterium title. Good on him. I’m glad to see that. He’s a likeable lad when you see him in the interviews. He’s a really, really nice chap, and you think, ‘You know what? I want you to do well, and I really hope that this might be a springboard to go forwards in the sport.”

Timothy John

“Yeah, and I think that you’re right to reference that road race performance, too. If he hadn’t overlapped the wheel in front of him, he might have been there at the death, and how would that have played out? Alright, Mark Cavendish is arguably the greatest sprinter of all time. You wouldn’t really back anybody to out sprint Cavendish, but you’ve got to thin Bostock would have been in there, wouldn’t you? He’s a really rapid rider. 

“Now, coming back to that men’s crit race. Well, Sam Watson. How many people do you see look supremely elegant in a crit race, which is full gas from the gun? And yet, he just looked like the WorldTour star in waiting, didn’t he? His progress seemed absolutely effortless. He was cool enough to hang back off Bostock during those numerous attacks from Josh Tarling. He didn’t chase down Tarling once. He sat on Bostock’s wheel and said, ‘Ok, if you want this jersey, you chase this guy down,’ and then, of course, was in a position to contest the sprint with Bostock. 

“Sam Watson in the road race and the crit race was, to me, an absolute revelation. I know he wasn’t a secret, but, wow, what a talent.”

Phil Jones

“Without a doubt, and Rayner-funded. I think it’s important to mention that too that, actually, there was a number of riders, in the female and the male nationals this weekend, Rayner-funded, so a big hat tip to the Rayner foundation. 

“But I think Sam Watson, you just looked at him and thought, ‘Wow. He’s just got everything here.’ He was genuinely disappointed not to take the senior [road] title. He looks quite disappointed. Obviously, he took the under-23 jersey as well, but what a talent he is. I think we’re going to be seeing and hearing a lot more of him.”

 

Part Six: Domestic Riders vs. WorldTour Riders

Timothy John 

“Broadening that out then to the current state of the domestic road scene: just how strong are the riders that we see in the National Road Series, week in, week out, and how far off their WorldTour counterparts are they? Daisy, there’s no one better to ask than you about that.”

Daisy Barnes

“I think it’s hard, isn’t it? Obviously, you’ve got your WorldTour, and it shows, doesn’t it, in the nationals, especially in the women’s, where you’ve got a WorldTour group off the front, whereas in the men’s, it’s a lot closer. They mix around a lot more, so I think the gap in men’s is smaller than the gap in women’s.

“You’ve only got to look at the likes of Becky Storrie from the Women’s Tour. She was mixing it with the WorldTour pros. I think Becky’s definitely a bit of a one-off. But there are some domestic riders and you think they’re really close: look at Leah [Dixon] on the podium in the time-trial, So, yeah, there are some that are really close, but I think there is a much bigger range of ability in women in comparison to men. It’s exciting.”

Timothy John

“How would you rate the strength of British women’s road racing at the moment, across the two divisions: the domestic scene and the WorldTour? I would say, coming away from that national championships, it looks really, really healthy.”

Daisy Barnes

“Oh, really strong. Year-on-year, it’s strong. Just looking at the Tour Series. Last year, it was a bit different: we only had three rounds, but I think it’s stepped up again. Each year, it’s getting stronger. It’s getting harder. You work harder for your results every year, I think, so, yeah, it’s definitely really strong.”

Timothy John

“Ian, you’d be well placed to answer that question, too.”

Ian Watson

“Yeah, 100 per cent. If you’re going to try and make a comparison between the men’s and the women’s, of course the men’s series is much longer established with its team dynamics and things like that, so the gap maybe looks smaller in that.

“But the women’s [series] is growing exponentially; absolutely exponentially. I’ve been in the management of women’s teams, or clubs and women’s teams for six years now. You’ve

gone right from having regional races and hoping to have 10 riders to getting full fields of 50 or 60 riders in them, week in, week out. 

“In the national races, you’re still getting bigger fields, but they were much more polarised a couple of years ago, as Daisy said. Now, it’s closer together. I was really impressed at the weekend, like I said, but how that field stayed together for so long before the usual suspects that you would expect to break away. 

“We were at Otley last night, and it was a big bunch sprint. There were still 50 riders left in that bunch sprint, and it was a fast, fast race, so the strength and depth is getting bigger every year. The more that you race against professionals, like you did at the weekend, Daisy, and other things, you’ve got that in touching distance now. You can see them. They’re not a million miles away. And that’s what I try to instil into my riders: the difference between that and you is very, very slim. It’s tiny. This year, and moving forwards into next year and coming years, our domestic scene is going to grow and grow. Professional teams are going to be picking our riders,”

Phil Jones

“So Daisy, you were in that position, so let me ask you. You’re suddenly on the start line with WorldTour riders, so what’s going through your mind? Is that a daunting thing or do you think, ‘Do you know what? I’m as good, and I’m going to give it my best.’ You tell us what’s going through your mind.”

Daisy Barnes

“I think there’s got to be part of you…With cycling, you’ve got to be confident, and you’ve got to believe in yourself, and if you don’t, there’s no point in you being there. You can’t win, if you don’t believe you can win. Once I’m on the start line, you have to forget who else is there. You can only race your race, really."

Part Seven: The Growth of Women's Cycling

Timothy John

 “I just wanted to ask an absolutely fundamental question about women’s cycling, and there’s never been a better time to ask it, literally, because I’m sat here with Daisy, and I’m sat here with Ian, whose done more…I know you’re very modest about this, but you’ve pretty much created women’s racing in London. 

“The fundamental, basic question: how has cycling, bike racing, become an option for young, female athletes? It’s incredible how quickly that’s happened. Daisy, what is now about cycling, about bike racing that is a viable option for a young female athlete?”

Daisy Barnes

“I feel that I’ve kind of grown with it, if that makes sense. When I started, it was on the growth pattern that you describe, and I’ve been lucky with the timings I had. But it think, as well, like with the Tour Series, this year, everything that the men get, we’re getting. There are so many teams as well. We’re not even really short of races for women to ride, so I think the opportunities are a lot bigger. 

“It’s also one of those sports, isn’t it, where it’s the time and the effort you put in. You kind of reap the rewards from that it. It’s almost that access to the sport is getting easier and

easier.”

Timothy John

 “Daisy, does it seem….I might have this wrong, but I know that Molly Patch came from triathlon. I know that Becky Storrie came from triathlon. Did you?”

 

Daisy Barnes

“I ran a bit, yeah, so I came kind of from a running background.”

Timothy John

“Has there been a fundamental change? Five or six years ago, as a young female athlete, you might have thought: ‘Well, triathlon is for me, and road cycling isn’t.’”

Daisy Barnes

“Everyone went: ‘Do you know what? Cycling without socks just isn’t for me.’”

Timothy John

“I knew we’d get there. I knew we’d get to the truth of the exponential growth in women’s cycling, and we’ve got there. Ian, where do you stand on socks in bike racing?”

Ian Watson

“I’m with Daisy, yeah. Socks all the way.”

Timothy John

“I mean, you created that scene. Is it merely a question of, ‘Build it, and they will come,’ or is there a more fundamental shift that young, female athletes think: ‘Do you know what? I’m not going to be a triathlete, I’m not going to be a runner, I’m not going to be a swimmer. All of those sports seem to have something for me, but cycling doesn’t.’ That seems to have gone.”

Ian Watson

“It is a big question, and I think a couple of things with it. I’m a cycling child of the eighties and nineties, and there were very, very few women racing at that time. It was never really questioned, I don’t think. It was never questioned, was it, Tony? Why was it? It was: ‘Well, you don’t want to ride a bike, that’s fine.’ I feel a bit bad about that now.

“There was this shift in the 2000s, starting with the Olympics and the funding. It would be interesting to know how everyone gets into cycling. You only ever got into it in those days because you knew somebody who already did it. With me, it was my dad. Perhaps it was your dad or your brother or your mate or someone who rode a bike, but you wouldn’t wake up

one day and say: ‘I fancy being a cyclist,’ you know, because it was never on the telly.”

Daisy Barnes

“It’s funny that you mention the Olympics. That’s kind of my first memory of cycling; well, maybe not my first memory, because obviously I learned to ride a bike as a kid, but competitive cycling`; the 2012 London Olympics. The track cycling, especially, was massive. I think that was first moment of: ‘That’s cool, isn’t it? That looks fun.’ That’s sort of my first memory of female competitive cycling.”

Ian Watson

“That’s what caught your interest?” 

Daisy Barnes

“Yeah, it got my interest. I didn’t start cycling properly until a few years after that, but that was my original thought. That’s my memory.”

Ian Watson

“I saw it change…It stated in 2008, really, at the Beijing Olympics. That’s where we first did well, and people thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll start riding a bike and stuff.’ But 2012, it went mad, and that’s when I started my cycling club, because I could see lots of people starting to ride a bike, but they weren’t getting into clubs. You’d see all these people riding around on their own, and that’s great, but I wanted to create a traditional club that we had in the North West growing up, and we didn’t seem to have down there.

“That’s the main thing that’s got more female people into it:  is that because it’s seen as a sport in its own right, and it never was before. Again, back in the day, no one would go from

another sport into cycling, necessarily, unless it was a runner with a bad knee, but other than that, they wouldn’t. 

“And then, all of a sudden, now triathletes, rowers and people from different sports are trying cycling, and it’s getting popular. And the sport is changing because the sport was quite closed off, I think. It was just very male-dominated, believe it or not, macho sport. I can’t believe it’s this macho sport when I got ridiculed when I was younger for wearing Lycra and shaving my legs.

“That’s wrong, and its got to change, and it is changing. A lot of effort is being put into it now by race organisers to put parity on with prize money and race distances and encouragement. Women are though of more, and they’re rewiring everybody with that with good racing, and, in my humble opinion, it’s better racing. I think it’s better racing because race distances are that little bit smaller, they’re more scrappy and attack-y. They’re less predictable than the men’s races. 

“And that’s what’s getting your interest, Tim. That’s why you’re looking and thinking: ‘Who’s going to win this race?’ It’s not like Cavendish is going to win this race. ‘Who’s going to win

this race?’ We don’t know.”

Timothy John

“The fan is the net beneficiary. I get two lots of great racing now, whereas I used to get one. I know it’s a very complex debate, women’s cycling, but for me, as a fan and a journalist, that’s where it begins and ends. I get more bang for my buck. I get twice as many great races. Phil, you wanted to come in.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, I just wanted to maybe draw a different perspective to this as well. Obviously, I’m in the technology business. That’s where I’ve spent my whole career. One thing you do when you run a big company in a certain industry is that you’re always what’s called ‘landscape looking’. You’re looking forwards, you’re looking to the sides. 

“What you can’t miss is that around 2008, 2010, the cloud exploded, iPhone exploded, social media: all of these things. Suddenly, we had this major event in the 2012 Olympics and a mass market with the ability to interact with athletes individually, and we had these amazing individuals - Dame Sarah Storey, Dame Laura Kenney, Victoria Pendleton at the time - all of these people. 

“Personal brands were becoming a thing. The way that we consume information was changing. All of that was happening in parallel. At the same time, you had commercial sponsors, people like Brother, taking the temperature of what’s happening in the world. Things were beginning to change. We were all becoming much more educated and generally aware of what

all sorts of things that are going on in society.

“Commercial sponsors like Brother, when we’re thinking about making sure that we have gender equality and equal pay and all these things, that was also coming along in parallel in the business environment. 

“In the business environment, where we’re doing things in the commercial world, if we’re going out and investing, we want to make sure that we’re doing the right thing, so more marketing dollars were flowing into female sports of all kinds, so there was a number of different things happening in parallel, which have all been good, in my opinion which have helped accelerate to where we are now. We’re now at this lovely point where things are really in a good place, but I’d still like to see things go further.”

Timothy John

“I think we’re a long way down what is probably still a very long road. I wanted to ask Daisy, just very quickly, about the structural and the wider ecosystem in which the sport exists. Ian has talked about the regulatory side of that: parity in race distances, parity in prize money, this, that and the other. 

“What about the cultural aspect, and I’ll explain what I mean by that. You’ve got young male riders. You’ve got young female riders. You go out training, presumably, with the guys; you see them at races. Is that the most powerful? 

“I guess for riders of your generation,  and the guys as well, there’s no difference. “Well, Daisy rides a bike. Of course, she races a bike. She’s a bike racer.’  A guy just wouldn’t blink, I wouldn’t have thought. Someone like Sam Watson isn’t going to be surprised to see you on a bike, whereas 20 years ago, he might have been.”

Daisy Barnes

“Yeah, it’s weird because when I was at uni and training, there were a few girls up there, and we all rode together. And then Id’ come home, and, obviously in Carlisle, there’s not many riders from Carlisle who are female. There’s a few of us, and when we’re at home, we all ride together, so I’d go out with the boys and none of them are surprised. None of them are bothered at all. They’re all like: ‘That’s fine.’ It’s just a Sunday ride and no one thinks anything of it. There might be one girl or two of you for your local crit, the girls will do the men’s 3/4, and the men aren’t like: ‘You can’t do it.’ It’s fine. Nobody blinks at all.”

Timothy John

“I wonder if that will be the most powerful factor. That it will just be part of the cycling culture. ‘Of course women race.’ You need the regularly stuff, the wider social ecosystem, and digital media is something that we now totally take for granted: scrolling through somebody’s life on Instagram. That didn’t exist, even 10 yeas ago, did it?”

Phil Jones

“Yes, there’s a lot of pressure now on the national federation and on race organisers, people like SweetSpot, to make sure that everything they’re doing now, they constantly have this at the front of their mind: ‘Well, we’re doing this, but on the other side, we’ve just got to make sure that ‘that’ - the women’s side of the sport - has that parity. 

“I know the guys at SweetSpot well, and that’s one thing that they do very, very well is that when they run the Women’s Tour, the facilities and everything, prize money, is bang on equal.”

Ian Watson

“They did a great job with the Tour Series this year, SweetSpot: equal distances for both races. They’re putting women’s races on as the main event, so it isn’t just the first event and the sideshow. They put us in the forefront, so if they keep doing that it’ll be great.”

Phil Jones

“Daisy, would you have liked the women’s national road race to have been the same as the men’s?”

Daisy Barnes

“Well, I was also ok if they wanted to reduce the men’s Tour Series to 45 minutes, rather than increase the women’s. I was also ok with doing it that way around. When they said, ‘it’s going to be an hour for the women,’ everyone was like, ‘Great! Gender equality!’ And I was thinking: ‘Yes, that’s another 15 minutes I have to suffer for.’ So I’m ok with the distances as they are. I guess if we’ve ridden for longer on Sunday, we might have dried out eventually. We would have caught the nice bit of weather that the men’s race had.

“I was listening to a podcast recently. They said that the women aren’t trained at the minute, with the way that cycling works now, to go and do a three-week stage race, because that’s not what women have trained for, whereas the men know that they’re going to do the Tour de France for three weeks. 

“They want to start to make it more equal. It will have to be more progressive. You can’t suddenly say, ‘Well, the girls do a 150 miles on Sunday and race it.’ I think it will completely change the race. People are going to say: ‘Well, we’ve got 150 miles. I’m not going to join a breakaway at kilometre one, am I?’ So I think that’s going to have to be a bit more

progressive, if that’s the way it’s going to go.”

Ian Watson

“That’s a very interesting point. When I talk about parity of race distances, ‘closer to’, I guess...I think in an ideal world, the women’s should probably stay about the same and the men’s come down, like you said, even in the bigger races. 

“In the WorldTour, they’re racing 130ikm or 140km and they’re racing them from the start, but if a race is 260km, there’s going to be a procession for four hours. You may as well turn on

some stages with 40km to go because you’re not going to see anything before that. It’s pretty interesting what you said. I’d agree with that.”

Timothy John 

“Even if you put the gender question to one side for a moment, the men’s sport has existed for much longer, and, as a consequence, is more professional. There are embedded tactics, embedded roles. You kind of get to that stage, which, unfortunately, some men’s races have reached, where it’s completely formulaic because that tactic is  the most efficient tactic. 

“We were talking about 2012 earlier, when Wiggins won the Tour. Actually, it was a really boring Tour, and we had a few like that, didn’t we, with the Sky train, because that’s the most efficient tactic: you burn off the riders, one after the other, until only the leaders are left, and one of the most exciting things about the Rog and Pog era is that Pogacar will race from

anywhere, from any point in the race, won’t he? We saw that at Strade Bianche earlier this year. 

“Just coming back to Daisy taking about the professionalism of the Tour Series and everything else: how does that help you, Ian, stood at the gates of Regents Park with a bunch of women, and they’ve never raced a bike in their lives and are just at the beginning of their journey into cycling. Do these events like the Women’s Tour break through at that level? Do they serve as an inspiration?”

Ian Watson

“Yeah, I think they definitely serve as an inspiration. You’ve got to have a role model and a goal and see someone who is like you doing that. 

“I say that about any of the teams that I run - and certainly about my LDN ‘L” team - it’s got to be aspirational: not, ‘Look at us. Look at how great we are. We’re the best team in the country,’ type thing. It’s got to be aspirational, and I’ve got riders in that team who turned up for the first time two years ago at Regent’s Park, and of them, four years ago, turned up in

trainers. That’s the progression. It’s important for people to know that and see that progression is there.

“But going on to, like you say, to watching people in the Tour Series and the Women’s Tour, then it is massively aspirational because they see that it can be done, and there are women like them that are doing that job, whereas 10 or 15 years ago, it wasn’t here. There just wasn’t that pathway, and now there is, and it’s very important.”

Timothy John

“I know that you’re pretty modest about this, but you take novices who turn up at the gates of Regent’s Park, and you turn some of them into elite athletes. That’s really impressive. How early, how quickly can you spot the riders that are going to become your next leading riders on Brother UK - LDN?”

Ian Watson

“Fairly early, I suppose. Not everyone who turns up is going to have the attributes or the will or the want to do it. It’s not just having the physical ability to do it, it’s having the mental ability and then focus and drive, which not everybody has. It’s a case of spotting that and nurturing it and pushing forwards, so that’s what I try and do.

“The main goal for me is that if someone has that inkling and that notion, I just want to make sure that they have got that idea, even just the idea that they might want to do it or like to try it, I want to give them every single stepping stone to do it. They might get to this level, or that level, but it doesn’t matter which level they get to, they’ve done everything that can to do it, and they’ve had that opportunity, rather than being told, ‘No, you can’t do it again,’ or, ‘You’re not fast enough,’ or, ‘Sure you’re going to keep up?’ and all of those things that they

sometimes get when they turn up on other rides. 

“It’s very important to have a pathway. I haven’t got a magic wand. I’m not the greatest coach in the world. I’ll never profess to be. I’m more of a motivator and guiding people to do it, if they want to do it, I’ll push them as far as they can go.”

Timothy John

“Sparing your blushes, I’ve spoken to your riders. Things that just get dropped into the conversation that never make it onto the podcast or into the social media posts, but all of them say, without exception, that you are able to bring the best from them; that you’re able to connect with them on a personal level and instil the confidence to perform. How do you go about that?” 

Ian Watson

“I don’t know.”

Tony Barry

“I think that comes from within. A leader is a guy that’s there all the time. It just needs bringing out in him, just like the competitive rider just needs bringing out. It’s superb that in our sport of cycling, you can see that.”

Part Eight: Leadership and Motivation

Timothy John

“Absolutely. While we’re dealing with leadership, well, Phil this is very much your specialist subject.”

Phil Jones

“Yes, leading a large business, you get used to the idea of how to motivate people, primarily. You’ve got inspiration, you’ve got motivation, you’ve got intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and, actually, what it comes down to is, Who is the individual? What do they want? And how do we get the most from them? 

“That’s one of the questions I ask everybody who joins Brother UK. They have a meet-and-greet with me, and in that meet-and-greet, that’s one of my default questions: ‘How do we get the most from you, as a person? You tell me.’ And every response is different. 

“Some people want applause and to be on stages. Other people just want to quietly go about their work, and what I realise now, certainly among my leadership team, is that I understand how to get the most from all of them. 

“With one individual, I know that if I need to say, ‘You’ve done a great job,’ the last thing that individual needs is to be on a stage. What they actually want is a quite one-to-one, where I

just go, ‘You’re brilliant, and I literally can’t do my job without you. Thank-you so much.’ That is enough. 

“There are other people on my team who want to be on a stage with everyone clapping and whooping and saying how wonderful they are. I remember when I read Mark Cavendish’s book, when he was talking about working with Steve Peters, the psychologist, and he pretty much didn’t want to work with him, because he pretty much said: ‘I know what makes me go. Just blow smoke up my arse.’ And that’s in his book. And that’s it. ‘I don’t need all of the dissection and hours and hours with a psychologist. Just keep me buzzing, and you’ll get the

best performances.’

“I think when you’re leading a team, as long as you understand that, firstly, as individuals, we are human beings motivated by different things. But then, of course, you have the difficulty of a team dynamic: when that teams come together. 

“Obviously, I’ve seen at first hand with people like Cherie Pridham. Adam Kenway rode for Cherie at Vitus. There’s Cherie now up in the WorldTour, leading people. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, it’s about, how do I get the most from that other person? 

“And then, when you’re leading larger organisations, slightly more complex, you then have to look at the fluid dynamics of when those individuals interface with other individuals, which is what we then call ‘culture’ and how we get the best from a culture. 

“So, that’s my view: is always see riders as individuals, and then you tend to get the most from those people.”

Part Nine: Men's National Road Race

Timothy John 

“What a panel we’ve got here today. We’ve got the leader of a major business, we’ve got the manager of a cycling team, we’ve got the former manager of the Team GB road team, and we’ve got an active rider, so we’ve got some pretty valuable insights. 

“I’m just going to use that cue from Phil about Mark Cavendish because we haven’t used the men’s road race at the national championships at all and that was arguably the best race of the weekend. What a sensational race. Tony, you were inside it, as we’ve already heard. 

“Just stepping back, as a fan, as a spectator, let’s have a takeaway from each of you. For me, at least, it’s that Mark Cavendish, who isn’t always the easiest individual to deal with, but who has achieved incredible amounts within our sport - a world championship, 34 Tour de France stage wins, and a Monument Classic victory - still, the British Championships mean something to Mark Cavendish, and isn’t that a wonderful takeaway. 

“Ian, what was your big takeaway from the men’s road race?”
 

Ian Watson

“Well, one is that it was raced from start to finish as a race should be. We talked earlier about how men’s racing can be very predictable, and that was the very opposite of predictable, so that was really good.

“What I liked the most was the way that Mark Cavendish rode, to be honest with you. He’s pigeon-holed, of course, as a sprinter, and he spends most of his time in bunches being led out for the last few kilometres, and it’s his job to do that, and he does that very, very well. 

“It’s easy to think, that’s just a sprinter. I know from my coaching and managing point of view, when I’ve got to tell a rider how to ride, they try and pigeon-hole themselves into things. To watch him ride like that is to say, no, he’s not just a sprinter. He’s a brilliant bike rider. He’s very, very clever. He marked every move and made a few moves and won the race. I think it

was fantastic.

“You already mentioned Sam Watson. I mean, what a find, you know? Incredible riding: such mature riding and clever riding, and then, to see him on the podium. He looked 12, didn’t he? No disrespect. He’s a young rider. He’s going to be an absolute superstar. There were some real revelations.

Timothy John 

“Daisy, you probably would have been drying out still while the men’s race was on. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to watch it and form any conclusions.”

Daisy Barnes

“It’s nice to see. You just feel he loves it. He’s not like, ‘Oh, I’m a bit sick of it now,’ or. ‘It was better back in the good old days,’ or anything like that. He loves it, and it’s so good to see.”

Timothy John 

“Phil, you mentioned earlier, you watched every kilometre of both road races. What’s your big takeaway from the men’s race?”

Phil Jones

“Very similar to Ian, actually. For me, I just thought what you saw was a world-class bike rider with intent, going out from the gun, going, ‘I’m up for this today.’

“At times, making moves. At times, just moving behind and saving a bit of energy. They tried so hard to get rid of Mark Cavendish, didn’t they in the race? They were trying so hard.

They were ganging up on him and all sorts, but the class shone through. 

“It was 2013 when he last had those stripes on, and he’s coming to the end of his career, relative to where some of these younger riders are, and he still had that hunger. He had the hunger to have those stripes on again, and you could see that in every pedal stroke that he made during the race. It was genuinely fantastic.

“I just want to give out shoot-out to Alexander Richardson because I thought he rode a spectacular race. Absolutely brilliant. Again, he looked a bit disappointed at  the end of it all not to kind of get up there and maybe take the win. I thought he looked brilliant, and, obviously, he’s now signed for St Piran. He rode the race as a privateer on the day, but it will be great to see him back in the National Road Series and showing his class. 

“But there are so many bits and bobs in it all. Across the whole race, there were breakaways, bits of intent, INEOS trying to make it a bit difficult for everybody. But for me, the men’s

road race, and, simply, the sheer class of Mark Cavendish, was the standout story of the day. 

“I made that much noise when he went over the line. I literally jumped off the sofa and was jumping around the front room because I just thought: ‘That is going to mean everything to him. It’s going to mean everything to him.’

“I really liked the magnanimous way he went to all the other riders and congratulated them for their own performances; to the U23s. There are nice pictures of him with Sam Watson in their [national champion’s] jerseys: all this kind of thing. 

“Cav stands at the women’s races and cheers them on. Cav’s a true cycling fan, isn’t he? He’s a cycling fan, and I’m really, really glad that he got the jersey that day. Genuinely, I am.”

Tony Barry

“We all say that Cav is a sprinter. On that day, he put just as much into that break as anybody. He drove it, and he was talking to people: ‘Come on. You’ve got to come through.’ Nobody sat on, because Cav wouldn’t let them do that. 

“He was the same as a junior when he used to come over from the Isle of Man and ride on Wavertree playground in Liverpool. He was full of cycling, and he will always be a cyclist. He was out riding when the women’s race was on, and you could see him at the side of the road. That’s the guy. He lives cycling.”

Timothy John

“Tony, we already know that you finished fourth in the elite men’s road race. I just wondered if you had a different takeaway? You saw the race from the inside. What will be your lasting memory of that race?”

Tony Barry

“I mean, to criticise them, I would say the three lads, including Cav, lost it in the sprint. They let Cav, not have it, but do his thing. They should have split and gone either side of the road and made Cav either go up the middle or take one of them. 

“It’s easy to criticise, isn’t it, after the race and say, ‘This is what they should have done.’ Cav would have won anyway, I think. He’d have done that, but they all put their best on that day. I’m sure they did.”

Phil Jones

“Tone, on that one, before you finish: normally, natural service would be taken off at the deviation before the finish, but you weren’t at the nationals, so what was going on there?”

Tony Barry

“Because, we were asked to continue because there were three riders there with a fourth maybe a minute behind. If one of them had had trouble, at least we were there. That’s what Dave Menzies, the commissaire [wanted]. He said: ‘Go through.’

“Normally, we go into deviation, but, fair play to him, he’d seen what was going on, and that could have been the loss of a podium place if one of them had punctured. Moat probably, he would have just ridden across the line, but there was another guy coming up [from behind].”

Phil Jones

“And there was me thinking you just had selective deafness to make sure that the Brother logo could be seen by all the viewers; yes, over you rolled. 

“But, yes, that makes sense to me now that, effectively, you were there until the final metres, even if you just needed to get a bike off the roof or if there was a crash or whatever that

someone would still cross the line and earn their podium place. That was the rationale of the commissaire.”

Daisy Barnes

“It was a shame you didn’t make it onto the podium.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, Tony. It’s the medal that never was.”

Tony Barry

"We couldn't have gone any faster."

Timothy John 

“Since we were last speaking, we’ve been joined by another guest, by Adam Kenway, a Brother UK-sponsored athlete, former British hill climb champion. He has residential rights, I think, on the podium of the national hill climb championships, he’s won so many medals.

“Adam, picking up on that thread, we were talking about Mark Cavendish, and while we watch Cavendish as fans, you’ve actually competed against him. What sort of competitor is he?”

Adam Kenway

“Furious. He really is furious. The first time I raced against him was in 2016, at the national road race championships. I was a real underdog. We were going across the main break at one point, and I asked him to give me a turn, but he wouldn’t have any of it, and told me where to go, and about three minutes later attacked on his own and dropped me in the middle of nowhere, so I was in no man’s land. 

“A couple of years later, it was the Tour de Yorkshire, and [the stage] started in Richmond. It was a beautiful day; an amazing day. I’d had a good day the day before, so I was on a bit of a high. There were crowds everywhere. I was on the front, on the start line, with Cav, and he started chatting away, saying, ‘How amazing is this?’ and he was a real joy to talk to. 

“I can remember a bit of a team meeting beforehand, and we said: ‘Ok, there are no climbs in the first 10 or 15 minutes. The first climb is Sutton Bank.’ At the team meeting they said,

‘Adam, you’re doing ok on GC, so you don’t do anything but just sit in and chill.’

“We rolled out, and I was thinking: ‘Richmond. I know Richmond. I don’t think there’s a flat way out of Richmond.’ I think the climb was in a neutralised zone, but, obviously, neutralised zones are really neutralised zones. It’s probably the hardest point of the race.

“Two guys went, and Dimension Data, whom Cav was riding for at the time, were favourites for the sprint in Scarborough, and Scarborough is the big spritzers’ stage, so they didn’t want a break to go away.

“But two riders went away, and I think they were happy with that. I went, and Bernie Eisel pulled me back. It wasn’t even an effort for him. I looked across and said: ‘I really need to be in the break.’ I had Chez shouting in my ear: ‘Go Kenway, Go.’ Basically, he looked at Cav, and Cav gave him the nod, and I went. 

“They said, ‘You can go, but you won’t get across to them now.’ I went. I can remember being out there for about five minutes. I could see the break but it was almost untouchable. In the

back of my head, I thought: ‘I just can’t go back to the bunch.’

“Luckily, there was a bit of a descent, a climb, and I got across. It was one of my best days ever on the bike, really. The crowds were amazing. Unfortunately, I went up Sutton Bank nice and steady, but there was another climb, which we weren’t expecting to be as hard as it was. It was quite narrow. We got over the top of that and then heard on the radio, ‘Cav’s been dropped out of the bunch on the climb.’ BMC had hit the climb hard. They had Greg Van Avermaet at the time.

“As soon as I heard that, I thought, ‘That’s the end of the break,’  because BMC were drilling it to make sure that Cav didn’t get back on, and I think Greg did win the sprint in the end.”

 

 

 


 


 

 


 


 
 


 


 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 
 


 


 

 
 

Part Ten: 2022 National Road Series

Timothy John 

“Well, thanks for joining us, Adam, for that story alone! Your work here is done. Absolutely brilliant. 

“We’ve covered so much ground already, and we haven’t even talked about the National Road Series, so let’s put that right. It’s been a great series so far. We’re still pretty early into it. 

“We’ve had the Lincoln Grand Prix, for men and women. The men’s race was won by Luke Lamperti of Trinity, and by Becky Storrie, who we like to think of as our own Becky Storrie. She came up from Brother UK-OnForm. 

“She won the women’s race, and, brilliantly, Daisy, your team-mate Jessie Carridge was third. Where did that performance come from? She’s a class act.”

Daisy Barnes

“She’s lovely. She’s really modest, and she’s really level-headed. I remember crossing the line at the finish, and she just looked at me and said, ‘I think I’ve come third.’ I was like: ‘Have you?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, I’ve come third, but I don’t know how.’ I said: ‘Jessie, you’ve trained so hard.’

“I’d had a chat with her a few days previously for our social media. I asked how it was going. She was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve never done Lincoln. I’ve not looked the course, but I’ve been doing a lot of one-minute efforts so I’m assuming the climb is about a minute long.’ At the end. [of the race], she said: ‘Oh, those one-minute efforts really paid off.’ She’s really strong.”

Timothy John

“Well, modesty obviously prevents you from saying that she is one third of the British women’s team time-trial champions. You are another third and so is Laura Pittard.

“That’s the second British title this year, I think, for Brother UK - Orientation Marketing. The Olympic Academy trio and Ellen Bennett won on the track - the senior British women’s team pursuit title - back in March, and you, Laura Pittard  and Jessie Carridge won the British women’s team time-trial championship last month, I think.”

Daisy Barnes

“Yeah. It was really good, actually. Neither Jessie or I had done a team time-trial before. It was really fun, actually. We rode really hard. I think you get a bit more out of yourself when you’ve got someone on the front and someone behind, and you’ve just got to keep going. You’ve just go to keep your head down and get on with it. I think we all found a bit extra that day. 

“That was really good fun. They were really, really good girls to ride with, actually. Obviously, the Olympic trio are doing really well, too. Grace Lister has just got a Commonwealth Games selection, so that’s good.”

Timothy John 

“Let’s go back to the National Road Series. The CiCLE Classic, as we’ve mentioned, the women’s race was won by Josie Nelson of CoOp - Hitec Products, who, as we’ve mentioned, added the national criterium title to her palmares.

“There’s a slight anomaly between the men’s and women’s National Road Series this year. The men’s CiCLE Classic, of course, is a UCI race, rather than a national race, and that was won back in April by Finn Crockett of Ribble-Weldtite. 

“The rounds remaining, of the National Road Series, are the Stockton GP on July 3, the Lancaster GP on July 17, the Manx International, on July 22 to 24, Ryedale - your debut

National Road Race, Daisy - and it wraps up on September 18 with the Beaumont Trophy. 

“Ian, which of those races are you looking forward to the most?”

Ian Watson

“It’s really good that we’ve got two new rounds for the women this year. It’s the first time that we’ve had equal rounds for men and women, which is a massive step forwards. I think I’m looking forward to the new rounds, actually, particularly the Isle of Man. 

“I think that’s going to be a great test. I know the Isle of Man well because I used to race on it years ago myself, when they had the Isle of Man International Cycling Week, so I’m really excited that my riders had the opportunity to ride on that. It’s a great  experience, riding up the mountain, because it’s a proper mountain. 

Timothy John

“Tony, you’ve already supported a race this year on the Isle of Man, and you’ll be back again for the National Road Series events.”

Tony Barry

“The junior one did not use the TT circuit. They have circuit that is renowned for their race, but the TT circuit is superb. If you think about it, the International, years ago, was three laps of that, and it was a hard event.

“And [this year’s race] is a stage race. It’s the only one of the national series which is a stage race, and the climb that they’ve got down at Castletown is quite a hard one.”

Timothy John 

“Phil, you’re going to be there the whole weekend, I think?”

Phil Jones

“Yes, I am. I went the last time they did the three-day and thoroughly enjoyed it. I like the mix of the different styles: of having the hill climb and the crit, as well as the road race. I really liked the blend of all that. It was really brilliant.

“I remember running alongside Ed Clancy on the hill climb. Obviously, Ed wasn’t renowned or his hill climbing ability. He’d be the first to tell you that. Literally, I waited. I was probably one of the only people on the top because I was staying at a friend of mine’s at the time, [I was] running alongside like one of those lunatic Tour de France fans, shouting: ‘Come on, Ed! Come on, Ed!’ And he won the crit, didn’t he, that time around?”

Timothy John

“Fantastic. Ian, we took a lot on this podcast about the National Road Series, and its suitability for developing riders for professional careers. Where do you stand on that? Is it a good training group? Does it compare to the Olympic Academy route, for example?”

Ian Watson

“Absolutely so. It gives us a good grounding of pacing the big bunches. The quality of racing is fantastic and when we go abroad, we can take that confidence with us, when we go into those races. The riders do perform because of it, but without that racing here, it world be a different story. If we went over the just having ridden a few crits, we wouldn’t be in the same boat. We have been pushed, and we have been challenged, and that helps us in bigger races when we go abroad.”

Timothy John

“Yeah. We talked earlier, didn’t we, Daisy, about women’s cycling and how domestic racing can be attractive to a young athlete like yourself, and we kind of framed that [debate] within the [context of] the Tour Series and the Women’s Tour. How inspiring, how motivational is the chance to ride in the National Road Series?”

Daisy Barnes

“Yeah, definitely. I think as well knowing that it is such a high level, and the strength-in-depth that Ian’s talked about. I think knowing that in the UK that is the best of the best and even being there, being on the start line. Finishing a National Road Series race is an achievement in itself, and I don’t think that people really recognise that. 

“If you’re too far behind, you’re not even finishing. I remember when I went to Ryedale - scarred! - I remember people saying to me, ‘Even if you finish, that is an achievement.’ It is inspiring and aspiration because even being there and being able to get round is amazing.”

Timothy John

“Tony, your experience in this sport is absolutely vast, and you will have seen  the various [incarnations] - I think it was called the Star Trophy at some point, the Premier Calendar…”

Tony Barry

“The Pernod…”

Phil Jones

“Pernod? Really? Pernod sponsored it?”

Tony Barry

“Yes. I rode the Pernod Classics.”

Phil Jones

“Did you get a bottle if you won?”

Tony Barry

“No, you didn’t.”

Phil Jones

“That’s disappointing, isn’t it?”

Timothy John 

“How does the modern National Road Series measure up to what’s gone before?”

Tony Barry

“It’s harder now because you’ve got the depth of riders that make a difference, whereas years ago, you’d maybe have ten out of a group of 60 or 70 riders were winners, whereas now I think that 50 per cent can win a race. 

“It’s definitely harder now than what it was. Some of the older guys will disagree with me, if you speak to Sid and other people like that. The competition is there now, which is what we need, and that’s why we’ve got the riders we’ve got doing so well in WorldTours.”

Timothy John 

“That’s interesting to hear. And how about you, Phil: Brother has been at the heart of the National Road Series as long as Brother has been in cycling, and that’s over ten years now. How does it provide return on investment for Brother? What’s Brother’s goal in being involved in that top-tier domestic series?”

Phil Jones

“I think where we decided that we wanted to slot in this was very much about being that partner that understood the scene well. I always said: ‘We’ve just got to do the smart stuff that other brands might not do. We’ve got to do, for example, sponsorship of neutral service. 

“I started to learn the scene and how it all worked and figured out: ‘Well, ok, where can we make an impact?” Rather than us come along with our huge Brother logos, hanging them

wherever we can and saying: ‘We’re here. Look at us. Aren’t we brilliant?’

“But actually, no, forget that. Smart sponsorship is about getting beneath the bonnet of a sport and really understanding its strengths and depths. You earn your place to some degree. 

“What we realised about the National Road Series is that it’s a vital component of developing riders and also for teams to provide platforms for the riders to races in this very, very competitive race series, fundamentally. 

“Once we’d understood and started to move into cycling, we’d said on the podcast before, we started with the neutral service and got into doing some work with SweetSpot on the Women’s Tour and the men’s Tour of Britain, and then we accidentally slipped into team sponsorship, and we actually haven’t looked back on that, honestly speaking. 

“I found a folder the other day, because I was determining a contract for one of the teams that we sponsor, and I looked back on all the team’s that we’d sponsored, some of which are here now, some who are not here. All the people who we can see in the sport now, or who, at some point, we might have had a hand in providing a little bit of money to a team for that rider to do their thing makes me realise that we’ve done quite a good job, I think. I can pat myself on the back and say: ‘We’ve done quite a good job here.’

“When I’ve met with people who are in the sport, I’m always chuffed because they compliment us on how we’ve done it. They say: ‘Yeah. Everywhere I look, you always seem to be around.’ And we’ve achieved that probably at about one third of the cost that another brand, if you tried to replicate it, if you u didn’t understand that sport, the people, the dynamics, the structure, all of these things, I think it would cost you three times as much to do it.

“But that’s about getting under the bonnet: how you bolt component parts that then become greater than the whole, which is ultimately what we’ve done. Obviously, Adam, Daisy. Adam, you’ve worked with Vitus. We try to get to know the riders on the team. We try to develop a relationship that is greater than: ‘Here comes the swinging cheque book. Everyone stand up straight and be nice to the sponsor.’ We just try and go a little bit deeper than that.”

Timothy John 

“I think it’s a lot more than that, isn’t it? Brother has real creditably in this sport. Adam, what role has the National Road Series played in your career? We think of you as a breakaway specialist, and rightly so, but you’re also a breakaway specialist, and you’re also at the sharp end of domestic road racing.”

Adam Kenway

“The National Road Series, I did my first one in 2015. At that point, I was already in…I think I’d won a medal at the national hill climb championships, and I was there or there abouts in that scene. I was road racing as well. 

“I can remember doing the first Poem. I think it was the Chorley Grand Prix. I can remember being there and there was Madison Genesis, JLT, Team Raleigh, who I signed for afterwards. 

“I didn’t take my hands off the handlebars for probably 230km. I didn’t eat, and I didn’t take a bottle, just because it was that frantic, and it was my first one, and I just didn’t want to miss anything or cause a crash. 

“I got to the end. I finished it. I was really chuffed. I finished my first national race. I thought: ‘How am I going to do that again?’ I finished, but I just finished. 

“By the end of that year, I could compete. I couldn’t believe with good winter training what I had to do to be up there and participate a little it in those races. A year after, I was in the break in Chorley. My first Premier Calendar race;  my first break. I remember thinking: ‘Am I actually here?’ I was looking around thinking: ‘I’ve watched you on telly. I shouldn’t really be here,’ but it just leads on. 

“They are some of the hardest races that you’ll ever do. At Ryedale, there’s normally only 30 finishers.”

Outro

Timothy John 

“A brilliant conversation. Thank-you very much indeed everyone for joining us today. It’s been wonderful to be back in the studio, and we couldn’t have hoped for a better panel. Thank-you very much to everyone out there listening. If you want to follow us on social media, we’re @brothercycling on all three channels [Facebook, Twitter and Instagram].

“Thank-you very much indeed for listening and do stay safe.”

Phil Jones

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

 

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