Back in 2015, former pro racing cyclist, bike shop, bike hire café owner and dyed-in-the-wool Cornishman Richard ‘Ricci’ Pascoe, had the crazy idea of setting up a world class racing team in his home county.
Four years later, his Saint Piran Pro Cycling team – named, of course after Cornwall’s patron saint – has taken a big step up onto the national stage by participating in the prestigious Ovo Energy Tour series.
The series of seven city centre races finished on Saturday 25th May, after two weeks of competition. The Tour visited Redditch, Motherwell, Aberdeen, Durham, Birkenhead and Salisbury before finishing at the site of iconic Brooklands motor racing circuit. Featuring the cream of British cycling talent, all the races received extensive TV coverage, on ITV4 in the UK and in 100 countries worldwide.
The Saint Piran team finished in fifth place overall, with lead rider, team manager and Helston boy Steve Lampier crowned points champion after achieving the best results in the intermediate sprint competitions within each race.
Racing on the narrow, twisty town-centre street circuits was fast and furious, with plenty of crashes and lung-busting sprints. Unsurprisingly, big crowds turned out at each venue to watch the action.
The highlight of the race series for Saint Piran was undoubtedly the Durham round, with the Cornish outfit taking four of the top nine places out of a field of 49 riders. Best placed was 22-year-old Cameron Jeffers in second, with Steve Lampier in fourth, Joe Evans seventh and Matt Nowell in ninth.
Just getting into the race was a huge achievement
Simply winning a spot in the Ovo Series is a testament to how far the team has come since its foundation less than four years ago. With five of the seven available slots taken by UCI Continental teams (the third tear of global cycling), Saint Piran was one of two chosen from the remaining 14 eligible teams in the Elite (fourth tier) category. Not only did the Cornish outfit beat the other Elite category team, it also came in ahead of one of the Continental teams.
But Saint Piran isn’t interested in merely being the plucky underdog from Cornwall. For Team Principal and co-founder Richard ‘Ricci’ Pascoe, this is a long-term project to build a team that will be able to challenge at the very highest levels of the sport. Coming up against teams with bigger budgets and more resources doesn’t phase the former pro rider, and while much work remains to be done, he has been pleased with the level of support they have received in Cornwall so far.
Do it the right way
Pascoe also wants to do things the right way. For example, giving the riders the best chance of success by providing them with top-end equipment in the form of Colnago bikes. The iconic Italian manufacturer is very much the Ferrari of the bicycle world, and Saint Piran’s machines attracted envious glances from other teams’ riders.
Pascoe said: “We came to make an impression and to showcase Saint Piran. We not only came away as winners on the road but also having made many friends in the peloton. We’ve been building this for years now and are now at a point where we can push on with our ambitions. Above all, we’re developing Cornish talent. What’s next for us? Watch this space!”
As the ITV4 commentator said at the end of that final race at Brooklands: “A dream tour series for the team from Cornwall.”
Tour of Britain is coming to Cornwall
This is only the beginning of the journey for Saint Piran though. For one thing, Cornwall has won the privilege of hosting the first leg of the 2020 Tour of Britain. The race, featuring top professional from around the world, will start in Penzance in September. The Cornish stage will follow a demanding 160km route that takes in iconic locations like St Ives and Falmouth, it will also pass through the heart of Cornwall’s historic mining district in Camborne and Redruth and go though the heart of the main population centres of Truro, St Austell and Bodmin.
The goal is to raise sufficient funds for Saint Piran to participate in the race and that’s something the team is going to be working towards over the next year. Running a pro cycling organisation is not a cheap undertaking and will require support from the private and public sector in the county. But in an environment where themes of sustainability and encouraging healthy lifestyles are front and centre, Saint Piran is perfectly placed to be the flag-bearer.
Watch this space indeed!