After Endura Racing dominated proceedings in 2012, rider line-ups and early-season results suggest there’s little to separate Britain’s top domestic teams this time around.
The five UCI-ranked squads who were resigned to fighting for second 12 months ago have all strengthened over the winter as they seek to fill the void left by the Scottish team following its merger with the German NetApp outfit.
Raleigh and UK Youth are many people’s predictions to lead the way, and there are a number of parallels between the two teams. Both improved significantly in 2012 (rather fittingly in Raleigh’s case, as the iconic manufacturer celebrated its 125th birthday) and they have well-rounded squads that should be competitive in both road races and criteriums.
Rapha-Condor-JLT have commendably continued their development focus, but in Ed Clancy and Kristian House they possess two of the domestic scene’s most talented riders. Clancy’s team-mate from the GB squad, Ross Edgar, is one of a number of new signings at a much-changed IG-Sigma Sport.
Good times ahead
Having dominated the scene as recently as 2009 in the guise of CandiTV-Marshalls Pasta, Node4-Giordana are arguably this year’s underdogs. With a number of their foreign riders yet to arrive in the UK, it may take some time before their potential becomes clear.
Furthermore, the new Madison-Genesis squad (Britain’s sixth UCI Continental team) are determined to prove their worth in their debut season, and nine months of planning means they are very well-run for a fledgling outfit.
There are also plenty of talented riders on the women’s scene, which bodes well for the National Series and Johnson Health Tech GP criteriums.
Impressive performances both at home and abroad last year was testament to the quality of Britain’s teams. Standards have risen dramatically in recent years, foreign riders are increasingly keen to race on these shores and sponsors are still coming on board.
Provided the problems relating to the shrinking domestic road racing calendar can be rectified quickly, the trend will continue.