By Gerry McManus
Multiple Swedish cycling champion Frederik Johansson has joined Britain's top cycling team Plowman Craven Associates (PCA) for the rest of the season. The former Team Mälarenergi rider joins former world and commonwealth track medallist Tony Gibb and former Tour of Spain green jersey winner Malcolm Elliott in their pursuit to keep hold of the top spot in the British Cycling ranking for 2006.
The 20-year-old made contact with the team through former team mate Magnus Backstedt after the former Paris – Roubaix winner met Tony Gibb at one of the Revolution track meetings in Manchester this year. Johansson has built a reputation against the clock but his national titles gained in his junior years were earned across road, criterium and time trial disciplines.
"I was always in the Swedish national squad when I was junior and I have raced in the U23 squad this year too," said Johansson: "Last year wasn't a great season for me because of many reasons but I am looking forward to racing with PCA this year."
Johansson will be based with his friend Backstedt in Cardiff where the big man has already taken him down to Newport for a taste of track racing. "I'm going to train on the track for a couple of months before I compete in my first track race," said the youngster from Koppaberg in Sweden. "I will be concentrating on the pursuit."
Johansson's debut for PCA will be in the forthcoming Chas Messenger 3-Day in Southern England starting on Saturday with a criterium at the Hillingdon Circuit in London. There may be some expectations of the Swedish youngster in Sunday's short time trial that precedes the afternoon road stage in Buckinghamshire but Johansson plays down his chances of a debut stage victory. "Hopefully I will do well but my legs are not on top form at the moment but maybe. I have raced already raced in 15 events this year and have managed to get into a break every time. I have also completed the Vuelta Mallorca earlier which was pretty hard but it was a great experience to race in the mountains.
"My key targets for this year are getting a medal in the Swedish time trial championships and a top five place in the U23 European championships and of course to help PCA win events. Living with Magnus will be really good experience. He is one of the top riders in the Pro Tour and it will be great to see how he works. And of course I can't forget to say thanks to Plowman Craven and Magnus for creating this opportunity for me."