AN ELITE cycling team with big ambitions is celebrating success so far in its first year while still being a team for the people.
Starley-Primal Pro Cycling, which is the UK’s only professional male and female team, is a project driven by Altrincham shop Starley Bikes, including its marketing director, Davenham man Nick Fountain.
The team’s latest success is rider Eileen Roe who won the 2014 Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series in June and will compete in the Commonwealth Games representing Team Scotland this summer.
Nick said: “We’re one of the only UK teams that has professional male and female riders but run and managed by the same team of people.
“It’s quite exciting times.
“This is our first year and it was a bit of a last minute decision – we came to the table quite late with the team but they’re doing well.
“We’ve got two riders in the Commonwealth Games as well and we’re just doing the custom bikes at the moment.”
Nick, who is often spotted driving the Starley car in and around Northwich, said the team was looking for more sponsors to help it step up a level next year to a pro continental UCI team but that it was keen to maintain its accessibility.
“I don’t like the way cycling is becoming like football in that high profile riders are kept separate from the fans,” he said.
“We encourage people to talk to our riders and walk around the pits.
“We’ve been around to lots of schools giving talks while doing the Tour Series and I think the riders enjoy it more as well because of that.
“The riders have a real passion for what they do and it’s a shame to keep them away from people because of their level of riding ability.
“We want to make sure that we’re a team accessible to everyone.”
The team calls itself the people’s team and hopes to inspire people to race bikes as well as ride them.
Starley Bikes has a similar ethos in that it is a bike manufacturer that builds each of its cycles around the rider, with every bike custom made and all of the bikes using the same components as the team bikes.
“We can use the team as the test bed for the business,” Nick said.
“We can test something out and if it works it’s easy to give access to the consumer.
“We also encourage people to learn – people can come in and ask questions and we will show them how to do things like adjust their gears.”
He added: “I think a lot of bike shops these days can be quite intimidating but for me it’s a memory of childhood – you should be really excited.”