For the West Australia based Plan B Racing Team, the National Road Series (NRS) presents a number of unique challenges. Relative isolation in the West puts significant stress on the team’s modest budget which is forced to bring gear, riders and staff long distances whenever they are due to attend races.
At the recent Tour of Gippsland in Victoria the team was forced to hire a mini-bus to serve as the team’s official transport. Not only was this not ideal as a race vehicle, it also meant race organisers forced them to be the final car in the convoy. On stage two into Wonthaggi, an ill-timed puncture ended up costing Sam Davies 6:03, largely because of how long it took for the team car to get to the rider. To put this in perspective Davies ended the Tour in 10th overall - 7:13 behind winner Nathan Haas.
Despite the circumstances, Team Manager Wayne Evans remains upbeat and believes the team is exceeding the expectations of many, including himself who has his own three-year plan in mind for Plan B.
"Our goal was always to start winning NRS events in year two, and we’ve definitely met and passed those objectives," Evans said to Cyclingnews. "This is also our third Tour where we’ve been able to put a guy on the podium in GC so we’re also ticking boxes there."
The team also has been riding a number of Asian tour events with a view to upgrading their license to a UCI continental one in the next few years. Strong performances in Thailand, Singkarak, Malaysia and in the past in Vietnam have built a solid foundation, but the plan to upgrade next year may have to wait.
"I think that may well have to be put on hold another year pending funding. We need funding and we need to bolster our roster so that we can be competitive in more races, and to continue to get invitations to bigger races on the Asian Tour."
"The Asian Tour is always going to be part of our plan though. It allows us to give riders a chance to keep up their form in the gaps in the NRS calendar, keep the momentum going, and of course it gives us exposure in the Asian market. If you get results in Asia bigger European teams are going to take notice."
Evans sees the development role of Plan B as crucial to its future. Forging links with GreenEDGE as a feeder team or even other World-Tour teams is the ultimate goal and that may not be that far off.
"I think that’s a crucial step to be able to provide international experience to some of our riders," agreed Evans. "A link with a team with GreenEDGE would really suit us."
Talent in the ranks
Having already had a crucial role in the development of riders like Cameron and Travis Meyer as well as Luke Durbridge (all of who Evans currently manages), Evans has uncovered another impressive talent in Bradley Lindfield. At just 17, Lindfield finished 2nd overall in last week’s Tour of Gippsland and won arguably the hardest day of the Tour, stage four into Warragul. Even more remarkable Lindfield has to ride on restricted gearing as an under 19 rider which makes a tough task even harder.
"The kid’s a first year U/19 and he’s already made the National junior road team. I think he’s showed that he can also be resilient and hold onto a lead, and I think that’s an indication of the kind of talent that he has."
"I feel confident that he can, assuming everything goes well over the next few years, become a real superstar of the future."
Retaining talent like Lindfield will be important to Plan B’s future aspirations, at least in the short-term. Although budgetary limitations remain a problem, Evans was adamant that the winning formula is not necessarily reliant on how much money a team can spend.
"The reason team’s like Genesys are doing so well is because they work together as a team," Evans echoed of the Genysys manager’s own appraisal. "I think the same can be said of us to an extent. If you tell riders ‘this guy is on good form lets all work for him today, and we’ll do the same for you’ then the success will come."