Three Olympians and a former World Champion drew a healthy press interest from international television and print as the MG Rover factory in Birmingham, UK played host to the 2005 presentation of Britain’s top cycling squad.
Recycling.co.uk/MG-XPower/Litespeed had a full complement of riders on show, not withstanding the arrival back of four of the squad from the Tour of Langkawi overnight and an impressive line-up of sponsors including representatives of all three major sponsors. Ushered between rows of the new 500bhp MG SV-R sports car and accompanied on bagpipes by Under 23 National Road Race Series Champion, Evan Oliphant, the squad took time to provide the audience with a question and answer session with Eurosport's Tour de France anchor man David Harmon.
Asked what an Olympic Champion looks for in joining a professional team, double bronze and silver medallist Rob Hayles was quick to point out that quality is everything. "I'm really excited to join recycling.co.uk/MG-XPower/Litespeed. I've got a really strong team of riders around me and the infrastructure is so strong, you don't consider joining a team with anything less," he said.
Former World Points Champion and fellow silver medallist Chris Newton was equally as enthusiastic, most notably by the ability to step beyond many of the constraints of the past few years. "I've had to concentrate on lots of other things for quite a while now but I'm desperate to win the rainbow jersey of World Champion back again," he said, adding, "With a team like this around me I think I can win the National Road Championships and the Tour of Britain too!"
Team Director Phil Leigh has worked hard in fostering a secure and stable environment for the team but conceded that 2005 was a quantum leap forward: "We've become the world’s first UCI registered track trade team and with the backing of such great and committed sponsors we are utterly focused on success. The plain fact is you just can’t expand the quality and quantity of a team’s racing without the support of sponsors who understand succeeding."
As well as Olympic stars Hayles, Manning and Newton recycling.co.uk/MG-XPower/Litespeed can also boast a wealth of young talent in Ben Greenwood, Leigh Cowell and Evan Oliphant who took second, third and first respectively in the National under 23 Road Race Series. "I'm a lucky boy," proclaimed Cowell. "How many other young riders get the support and chances I'm getting here in this team! With such experienced riders and staff it’s the best possible place for a young rider with ambition to be."
The team launch straight into a heavy spring calendar with Team Captain Russell Downing, Robin Sharman, Evan Oliphant, Leigh Cowell and 20 year-old Ben Greenwood on duty at the Circuit de Plage in France followed by a full team training camp in Sardinia.
For more information, visit www.recyclingteam.co.uk