The 5th of March is an important day in Cornwall. It is the feast day of Saint Piran, the patron saint of Cornwall, and, for cycling’s Saint Piran UCI Continental team, this year’s Saint Piran day marks an important step: the launch of their new feeder squad, 05/03, appropriately named after the Saint’s Day.
The aim is to race at the level of a UCI team, but without the full professional setupHarrison Hunter
Under the watchful eye of Cornish cycling legend Steve Lampier, the aim is to bridge the gap between national and regional racing to the Continental team.
“The whole emphasis of Saint Piran was to enable young riders from Cornwall and Devon to race at a national level,” Lampier says. “A lot of the riders dropped out of the sport in their late teens. Time and time again it was the travel that forced Cornish riders out of the sport. The team was created to be a bridge to enable guys to continue racing.
“But, the trajectory of the Saint Piran team was at a rate of knots, so we lost sight on the development side of things,” he adds. As a result, Lampier describes a “chasm” of riders, where there is a gap between the junior riders and the senior riders on the Continental team.
During lockdown, to try to address this issue, the Saint Piran Development team was formed. However, whilst this was initially aimed at developing younger riders, the team became a mix of some young riders and a number of “keen amateurs at the twilight of their careers”.
This, for Lampier, “devalued” the purpose of the team – to develop the young riders.
To compound this, Lampier laments that many of the development riders were having race entries rejected as – sharing similar names and kit – organisers tended to view both the UCI team and the development team as one.
So, the aim this year was clear. Create a team that could be a part of the Saint Piran group, a place to develop their own young riders, whilst also being an independent team in their own right. This is where 05/03 comes in. After some consultation with British Cycling, the team was created at the back end of last season.
We want to follow the programme of the UCI team as closely as we can, racing in the National As, National Circuit Series and to guest at some of the Tour Series rounds, tooHarrison Hunter
Harrison Hunter, this season’s road captain, has been given a significant role in setting up 05/03, alongside Lampier and Richard Pascoe, the Saint Piran team principal.
Whilst still a part of the Saint Piran group, the team needs to be financially sustainable on its own. Both Hunter and Lampier stressed the importance of this independence.
As a feeder team with its own identity, it has created a platform for both attracting riders and sponsors. The team will ride on SwiftCarbon bikes, as opposed to the Lapierre steeds used by the UCI team.
Similarly, the race programme will be closely linked to the UCI team, but again will be fundamentally independent.
“The aim is to race at the level of a UCI team, but without the full professional setup. So, we want to follow the programme of the UCI team as closely as we can, racing in the National As, National Circuit Series and to guest at some of the Tour Series rounds, too.” Hunter says.
The focus is very firmly on development and experience at these big races.
If an 05/03 rider wins a National A, then 15 of the Saint Piran riders are out of a job!Steve Lampier
“If an 05/03 rider wins a National A, then 15 of the Saint Piran riders are out of a job!” Lampier says.
“It’s about the experience. I always simplified bike racing all my life. I did the same routine at every race, I never got overawed by what the race was. You see it with riders’ first Premier Calendar races [Ed: now called National Road Series races], they see riders they’ve watched on TV and follow on social media.
“For these guys, they’ll start the Lincoln GP as their first Premier Calendar. That’s probably the worst one to have as their first, as it’s such a nervous race. But they’ll learn something from it. Whatever they do at that race, they’ll put that in their toolbox for the next race.”
This season’s roster will consist of ten riders, six of whom have been confirmed, with the team hoping to sign the other four by April. The aim is to have a space for one or two of these riders to make the progression into the UCI team, depending on how the season goes.
On making the jump up to UCI level, Lampier discusses what they are looking for in their riders.
“Any results they get are fantastic, I’m not looking solely at results. If they can win as many Regional Cs and National Bs as possible, that’s great.
“We’ll be looking at their training, dialogue with their coaches. I know them personally to give them help and advice to give them everything they need. It’s about the whole package.
“The race calendar is the race calendar, and it’s up to them what they do around that. We can facilitate it and help them when they’re there, but they need to get themselves to the races in the best physical and mental shape they can.” Lampier says.
Lampier’s mentorship of the riders is key. Hunter, and team rider Sam Shepherd, describe this as invaluable for their development.
I am hoping that the skills I developed on the camp will help throughout the seasonSam Shepherd
Already, both riders have seen a sharp learning process, as they attended the Saint Piran Calpe training camp earlier this year.
“I learned so much from them [the UCI riders], about training, structuring a successful season and also group riding at the top level”, Shepherd says.
“I am hoping that the skills I developed on the camp will help throughout the season. The drills and race tactics were things that we couldn’t do in another environment, especially with that calibre of riders,” he adds.
Central to some of these skills are ones that many riders would not get until they reach the UCI level, further showing the emphasis on bridging the gap between levels. This includes racing with support cars and taking bottles from the side of the road.
“I’ve seen racing with cars on TV, but I’ve never done it in person or thought how it works!” Shepherd says.
Hunter echoes Shepherd’s sentiments about developing new skills whilst in Spain, and adds that although some were a bit in awe of some of the Continental team riders and their experiences, Lampier was able to integrate them quickly.
“You rock up and there are ex-WorldTour riders, but they all welcomed our team so well and we got stuck in right from the start. We did all the sessions the pro riders were doing which accelerated our development.”
They can learn all the fundamentals in 05/03. I had riders last year at the Tour of Britain who had never taken a musette beforeSteve Lampier
Lampier adds, “they can learn all the fundamentals in 05/03. I had riders last year at the Tour of Britain who had never taken a musette before.
“We integrated the 05/03 guys and the UCI guys at the camp. Stuff a lot of second cats would never get, we want to set this team up from the top-down as professionally as we can.
“If we can teach the guys at 05/03 the simple stuff that many won’t do before they get to UCI level, then once they come into Saint Piran they are well on their way.”
Another strong focus of the team is the local Cornish community. Lampier discusses the French model of local cycling clubs and their pathway through to the pro ranks, grounded in the local area.
“All the French big clubs have their elite section, their pro elite section and a laddered system for them to climb it – that’s what we’re trying to do.
“Guys in the UK flick from team to team, and there’s no continuation. If you look at French club Vendée U, guys ride for them at under-23 and they move to Total Direct Énergie. It’s the same club.
“Why can’t we use that model?
“This is why we don’t have sponsors on the jersey, we are Saint Piran and 05/03 are 05/03 – we’ll still be the same in ten years,” he says.
Whilst Lampier says that the short-term future of Cornish cycling is “pretty bleak”, the visit of the Tour of Britain, and the planned Newquay Cycle Hub, has made the next four or five years look very bright.
Hunter says that this is not just for the riders but the team as a whole – from mechanics to team directors, the emphasis is on developing Cornish expertise.
The team launch on the 5th of March shows this – community rides with members from each team and a question-and-answer session.
“One of the big goals of Saint Piran and 05/03 is to engage with the community as much as possible. Being able to run social rides from the HQ every weekend is massive – we’ll be able to give young riders the pathway through from the junior ranks through the Saint Piran system.” Hunter says.
Being able to tap into this local resource is central to their long-term aims. The focus is on ensuring that young talent from the South West has this route through the sport, and the long-term plans for 05/03 support this.
There hasn’t been a pathway through for talented young riders in Cornwall. As the Saint Piran brand has grown, riders have realised they can get good racing in CornwallHarrison Hunter
“There hasn’t been a pathway through for talented young riders in Cornwall. As the Saint Piran brand has grown, riders have realised they can get good racing in Cornwall.
“The Tour of Britain inspired a lot of people. We saw a massive uptake in local cycling. The Newquay Cycle Hub and the crit track means there will be local racing. People will see it happening in their area and they’ll want to get involved.” Hunter says.
Looking forward, where does 05/03 hope to be in the next five years?
“I think in four or five years 05/03 will be at least 80% Cornish riders. This benefits both us and the pro team, if we have a crop of ten riders who are of UCI level then Steve can keep picking from that crop and doesn’t have to look elsewhere.
“We are hoping to achieve Elite Development Team status, hopefully for next year. We are trying to hit the key things that you need for this status right from the start.”
Of course, a lot of this rests on securing support financially, which is a crucial part of ensuring a team’s success.
“Unfortunately, funding is always an issue – it’s quite up and down. So is having a good group of partners will help us commit to the racing calendar that is required to be an Elite Development Team,” Hunter explains.
“It’s making sure we have the financial security to take that on, which is why this season was a bit too early to do that, especially coming off the back of Covid.
“Our goals are to show we are a sustainable platform for riders and that will hopefully attract good partners and backers this year, that will allow us to achieve EDT status next year.”
So, what constitutes a successful first season on the road?
“We’ll be doing a lot of National Bs across the season, the better results we get early on will mean bigger entries later in the season.
“It’s a developing team, this year is about seeing what each individual rider becomes, working on their strengths and weaknesses,” Hunter says.
Again, the focus is on developing and operating as close to a UCI level team as possible, and this will be reflected in their approaches to racing.
“We [Hunter and Lampier] will assess each rider and make a judgement and set up race plans and tactics. Steve can push towards a certain rider for a certain event, we’ll go into races with a rider that we’ll be working for.
“This will only help stepping into the UCI team, you’re given a role and you need to stick to it, so it’s learning that from the very start,” Hunter says.
There will also be a mix of focuses, from road racing and criteriums, to track and time trials, with the team encouraging them to focus on a range of disciplines, again to drive their development as a rider.
The step up into National As and the Tour Series will be massive so I don’t want to put any target on them, just getting round these events will be a good step for our riders
Their aims for the season mix ambition with realism, but with the central theme of development.
“Having a full team going to National As is a big goal. Top 25 finishes in a few of them would be a very good step for us.” Hunter explains.
“Elsewhere, we have a good chance of picking up at least top 5s in National Bs, and some we’ll be aiming to contest for the win, which I couldn’t say last season with riders turning up to races by themselves.”
“The step up into National As and the Tour Series will be massive so I don’t want to put any target on them, just getting round these events will be a good step for our riders.”
Shepherd reiterates this point, saying that he is excited to be able to perform on levels he wouldn’t be able to outside the team.
“We have some really strong riders, and it would be brilliant to see us excel in environments where if we were on our own, we wouldn’t be able to. It’s all about development and maximising the potential of each rider.”
Overall, 05/03 presents an exciting opportunity for the riders involved and is a clear step to developing a pathway for aspiring riders in Cornwall that has not been present before.
It will be fascinating following the results of the team, and should the team be a success, this model could be picked up elsewhere in the country. Whatever the case, this season promises to be an exciting one for the whole Saint Piran group, from 05/03 to the UCI team and the women’s team.
05/03 team roster (confirmed as of 5th of March): Harrison Hunter, Jordan Retallack, Harry Jukes, Sam Shepherd, Rob McPherson.
Featured photo: Harrison Hunter