Previews

2022 Sportsbreaks.com Tour Series: a riders’ preview

Alexander Smith talks to the riders and teams of the 2022 Sportsbreaks.com Tour Series

With a new presenting sponsor, seven rounds, live streaming, and a return to its traditional spot in May, the Sportsbreaks.com Tour Series returns to British town centres this bank holiday Monday.

Before the action begins, Alexander Smith went to the recent Cycle Show to catch up with many of the participating riders and teams to find out about their expectations of the first full Series since 2019. He gives us a full rundown of all the teams.

The Tour Series is so strung out and fast racing. You don’t have team radios, so you have to communicate with each other whilst racing, although you have your DS shouting at you at the side.

Jess Finney, CAMS-Basso

For more info about how the Tour Series works, when and where the rounds are, and what to expect, check out our explainer here.

Women’s competition

13 teams will take to the start line in each round this year. 12 of the 13 teams lined up in the 2021 Series, so many of the riders will know what awaits them in Guisborough. 

Tour Series 2021 Round 3, Castle Douglas, Scotland – Women’s Race – Cams-Basso. Photo: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

On of two British women’s UCI Continental teams to take the start, CAMS-Basso will be hoping to be the second team to take three overall titles in a row. The UCI outfit has always performed well at the Tour Series, and Jess Finney is optimistic they will defend their title. Meg Barker took home two victories in the 2021 season, and Finney herself took home a fourth and a third. The chaotic nature of the racing makes it exciting for the viewer, and Finney stressed the need for strong communication within the team to retain the crown. 

“The Tour Series is so strung out and fast racing. You don’t have team radios, so you have to communicate with each other whilst racing, although you have your DS shouting at you at the side.” Finney said. 

The other British UCI Continental team, AWOL-O’Shea, will be hoping to improve on last year’s performance, where they came in 11th overall. Team rider Charlotte Broughton stresses that the team’s focus is development. Broughton has been racing in the Tour Series from the junior levels, taking some strong results over the years.  She will be hoping to replicate some of those results this year and will attempt to take a first victory at the Series. 

Charlotte Broughton

“We’re focused on developing riders and giving riders opportunities, especially with work or university on the side. 

“I’m looking forward to the carnage! I really enjoy the fast-paced racing, the cornering, the dive-bombing! I just really enjoy how crazy the racing is and the nature of the courses.” Broughton said.

Last year’s runners-up, Pro-Noctis – Rotor – Redchilli Bikes p/b Heidi Kjeldsen will be hoping to go one better and leapfrog CAMS-Basso this year, while National Circuit Race champion Jo Tindley will be hoping to finally take a round win this season, after finishing in second place in all three rounds last year. She will also look to defend her Sprints jersey, which she won comfortably last year, but an overall victory will be the target for both her and the team. 

Torelli – Cayman Islands- Scimitar will look to make a strong impression on the Tour Series, their first as a UCI Continental team. The Irish-registered UCI Continental team have a focus on development and providing an environment for them to achieve their potential. The Tour Series provides an opportunity for their riders to test themselves at the highest level of crit racing. 

I think we have a really strong team this year, we’ve stepped up our level so if all goes well, you’ll see us more at the top end this year

Xan Crees, Team Spectra Wiggle p/v Vitus

UCI Cyclocross team Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus will be hoping for a strong showing to build on results from last season. Team rider Xan Crees is optimistic that they will be at the sharp end of racing this season. 

“I think we have a really strong team this year, we’ve stepped up our level so if all goes well, you’ll see us more at the top end this year!” Crees said. 

She stressed the need to take each round as it comes, and to prioritise the team ahead of personal ambitions. 

“A lot could change round to round, though. 

Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com – 09/01/2022 – Cycling, British Cycling National Cyclo-cross Championships, Crawley – Xan Crees

“Personally, I think round six is close to home for me, so I’d like to do well, but by then we’ll know who’s going well, or if we’re doing well in the team standings, we’ll need everyone at the front rather than going for the stage win.

“So, you have to look at the Tour Series like that. I think it’s really nice, everyone can be on the podium, and it shows the group effort.”

Sian Marsh, rider for Team Boompods, also stressed the need for strength in depth within the team to compete at each round. This year will be the first Tour Series for Marsh, after she took up cycling in the first lockdown in 2020. 

“The travelling is a big aspect, managing riders’ fatigue. 

“I think it will be exciting racing and I think it will come down to the wire a bit more rather than being decided in the first round!” Marsh said. 

“We’ve got Ellen McDermott, who’s our crit specialist, so anything we can do to help her get into a good position.”

Team Boompods will be hoping to make the jump into the top three of the team standings this season, after their fifth-place finish in 2021. 

“We’re targeting the team standings, to try and get as many points there as possible!” Marsh said. 

Tour Series 2021 – Round 3: Castle Douglas, England – The race passes through Castle Douglas, Team Boompods’s Ellen McDermott. Photo: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

Third-place finishers last season, Team Brother UK – LDN, will be looking to build on that and keep the pressure on the other top teams at this years Series. 

Rider Amy Marks expressed her excitement to get stuck into the Tour Series, off the back of plenty of circuit racing in the past few years. 

“I’m very excited to be lining up alongside my teammates. We’ve done the National Circuit Series and we have a good local scene, like Guildford Town Centre crits which give a good experience into the [Tour Series] kind of racing!”

Another team that finished in the top five last season is Jadan – Vive le Velo. A team with a long-standing history with the Tour Series, they will be looking for another strong season in the Series. 

I’m looking forward to the atmosphere, the crowds, there’s nothing like it

Detta Guerrini, Jadan – Vive le Velo

New rider to the team Detta Guerrini looks forward to getting back into the Tour Series with Jadan, having last ridden it in 2016. 

“I retired six years ago! I did the Series last in 2016, and I’ve spent the last two years building up my fitness again and hopefully I’ll do the team proud!” Guerrini said. 

“I’m looking forward to the atmosphere, the crowds, there’s nothing like it. Great Britain putting on a good show, the Tour Series is fabulous. It’s on the TV, we all get very excited and ride our socks off. It’s special.”

Ellen Inglis. Photo: Team Brother UK – Orientation Marketing

Team Brother UK – Orientation Marketing (Team OnForm) will be once again looking to use the Series to help develop young riders, through their pathway and connection with CAMS-Basso. 

Ellen Inglis said the chance to set up into the Continental team is a strong motivator for the riders to perform well at the Tour Series.

“We’ve always seen riders step up from OnForm, which is always motivating to see, to push us all on.” Inglis said. For instance, Jess Finney came through the OnForm set up, and made the step up to CAMS-Basso this season. 

“Simon [Howes] helps us as the DS from CAMS-Basso”

Inglis splits her time between riding for OnForm and being a student at Loughborough University. Loughborough will have a strong presence at this year’s Tour Series, with the return of Loughborough Lightning – TRG

Lightning will be competing in their second Tour Series and will look to build on the experience and progress made in their first season in 2021. A strong line-up of riders will hope to get some good results as the team develops.   

We’re looking to build round on round. We have a strong crit team going, but the team is so new

Lilie Sanders, Saint Piran WRT

Another team in their second-year riding at the Tour Series is Saint Piran WRT. A newer team than their men’s counterparts, they will be looking to take the Series round by round. 

“We’re looking to build round on round. We have a strong crit team going, but the team is so new.” Saint Piran’s Lilie Sanders said. 

“There were only five racers on the team last year, and this year we’re a team of 12!

“We’re all quite new to the team, so we’ll see where we get this year and then the Tour Series will be a big target for future years! 

“Some of our riders, like Maddie Gammons, Gwenno Hughes and Hannah Bayes are great crit riders so I’m sure they’ll be up there.” Sanders said.

Lillie Sanders. Photo: Saint Piran WRT

Datalynx – Paranesis Cycling are a team with a strong history with the Tour Series, competing in the Series since the team’s inception in 2015. The team will be looking for some good results, as they aim to raise money for Prostate Cancer whist racing in the Series. 

The final team taking to the start line in May is the Alba Development Road Team. Based in Glasgow, they are an Elite Development Team and are the only new team in the women’s Tour Series this season. They aim to provide a platform for riders to progress into the women’s pro ranks. 

Victoria Smith, a junior doctor alongside her riding, said the team have riders with great potential, but that the Tour Series will give them the opportunity to see how each riders’ strengths develop. 

“I’ll have to see where my strengths lie. Everybody on this team is quite new to road racing, but we have some talented riders. We will have to see how our strengths play out!” Smith said. 

Tour Series 2021 Round 3, Castle Douglas, Scotland – Men’s Race. Photo: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

Men’s competition

13 teams will take to the start line in each round this year. A real mix of new and old teams, the series looks to be one of the highest quality and tightest Series yet. 

All four British UCI Continental teams return to the start line, with each targeting the overall classification. Wiv SunGod will be hoping to reclaim their title from 2019, after Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling took the crown last year. While Saint Piran and Trinity Racing will be looking to leapfrog both of their Conti counterparts to take the win.

Tim Elverson’s Wiv SunGod team will be relishing the extended Series, after crashes in the first round of 2021 cost them their title defence. One bad round this year may not be the be-all and end-all for the teams, with plenty of opportunities to turn things around. The team has an extremely strong squad so will start the Series as one of the favourites.

We won the Series last year, so all the eyes are on us for this year. Some would say the pressure is on but we’ve got a good team this year and we know what we want to do and I’m confident that we can back it up from last year

Cameron Jeffers, Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling

Ribble Wedltite Pro Cycling’s Cameron Jeffers, however, said that the team is confident of defending their title.

“We won the Series last year, so all the eyes are on us for this year. Some would say the pressure is on but we’ve got a good team this year and we know what we want to do and I’m confident that we can back it up from last year.” Jeffers said. 

“Every year the level is raised, we have riders stepping down from the World Tour. The UK crit series is one of the best in the world so it’ll be hard either way, but we are up to the task!”

2021 Tour Series – Round 1: Guisborough, England – Podium – Ribble Weldtite’s Will Brown & Cameron Jeffers. Photo: Will Palmer/SWpix.com

Ribble Wedltite’s squad has been bolstered by the arrival of certain key riders, particularly Harry Tanfield. Tanfield steps down from Qhubeka NextHash, in the WorldTour. 

“The talent is so diverse now so there isn’t one team that’s head and shoulders above us. 

Wiv SunGod has got a really good team this year, Saint Piran have some really good riders, so I think between all the top teams it’s going to be close.

Jeffers also said that the Conti teams must keep an eye on the other teams, who will no doubt be strong and could sneak under the radar. 

“Equally you’ve got to give respect to the smaller teams, if everyone’s watching the Conti teams then they can sneak one or two riders up the road. So, you can’t give anyone an inch regardless of what team they’re on!”

We want to ride aggressively and try to take it by the scruff of the neck. Myself and Gabz [Cullaigh], Tom and Leon Mazzone and we have a few unknowns who can really do some damage to the racing

Charles Page, Saint Piran

Saint Piran’s Charles Page said that the Cornish team need to race aggressively to bring the classification to the South West. Saint Piran are also one of the teams to be fielding squads in both the men’s and women’s Series this year, once again. 

“Every British Conti team wants to win the series.” Page said. 

Ribble are not the only team to be strengthened by the arrival of a former WorldTour rider, with Gabriel Cullaigh arriving in Cornwall from Movistar. 

“We want to ride aggressively and try to take it by the scruff of the neck. Myself and Gabz [Cullaigh], Tom and Leon Mazzone and we have a few unknowns who can really do some damage to the racing.”

Both Jeffers and Page are keen to add a round victory to their personal palmarés, with both having strong rides in the past but without that illusive victory. 

Additionally, Trinity Racing return to the Tour Series, with the team that has developed some of the UK’s biggest young stars hoping to show off the next generation of talent to the British public. 

AJ Bell Tour of Britain 2021 – Stage 1 Penzance to Bodmin – Team Global 6 at the team presentation. Photo: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

The British Conti teams are joined by a foreign UCI team for the first time since 2009. Global 6, a New Zealand-registered Conti team, are looking to make an impact on the Series after impressing at last year’s Tour of Britain. 

It’s hard to get that level of exposure and excitement in other types of bike racing

James Mitri, Global 6 Cycling

James Mitri, a New Zealander who was bought up in the UK, said that the team are excited to get stuck in to the close, fast racing that the Series offers.

“It’s hard to get that level of exposure and excitement in other types of bike racing. The intensity, the duration, it makes for tight, motorsport-style racing. 

“People are really going to go for it from the gun, with a big fight for positioning.” Mitri said. 

On what the team can bring, Mitri highlighted some key riders who are targeting the Series, after some strong results in big races already this season.   

“We have some really talented sprinters, like Miguel Angel Fernandez, who podiumed at the Tour of Turkey last week, and he’s had a number of top 10s. Kiaan Watts is our leadout man, but he is also capable of being there in the final. 

“We want to send a number of strong guys who can control the race as well as sprinters who can make the excitement.” Mitri added. 

James Bevan. Photo: James Bevan

Outside of the Continental teams, there are a few that are hoping to spring an upset. None more so than Embark-Bikestrong.

Team rider James Bevan, one of just 11 Tier 1 Army Elite Sports Program athletes, said that the Series is a major focus for both him and the team. 

“I’ve been bought in as one of the main crit riders to give it a real bash and mix it up with the Conti riders.” Bevan said. 

We have a good chance of taking the sprinters jersey or getting some podiums

Brett Fabian-Smith, Embark-Bikestrong

Team owner Brett Fabian-Smith is ambitious in his goals for the Series. 

“We have a good chance of taking the sprinters jersey or getting some podiums. We’re looking for a top three as the team objective, but so much can happen, so we’ll see. We’re bullish about our chances for a major upset!”

UCI Cyclo-Cross team Spectra-Wiggle p/b Vitus have lofty goals as one of the teams fielding both men’s and women’s teams to the Series. 

Rider Mikey Mottram stressed the importance of each rider performing to their best each night, demonstrating the “Spectra attitude”, and they will take positives and negatives from each race.  

“We certainly have the firepower to be up there in a round or two. We’re more than just results at this team, it’s the attitude and the journey.” Mottram said.

“We’ll make our plan and try and stick with it, we’ll take positives and negatives out of every round!” 

New signing for the team, Frederik Scheske, will be aiming to repeat his round victory in Salisbury from 2019. 

Mikey Mottram. Photo: Spectra Wiggle p/b Vitus

Another team that has Tour Series experience is Team PB Performance, an Elite Development Team that will be looking to force its way onto the podium.

The more technical rounds will suit me better, but some of the lads will definitely suit some of the faster courses, so we have a good balance within the team

Kieran Riley, Team PB Performance

Kieran Riley will be one of the youngest riders to take on the Series, at 18. He said that the team will be taking the Series round by round, to try and maximise individual performances.

“I’ll be aiming to develop throughout the series as a first-year U23, so just learning the racing and trying to get towards the faster end of it. 

“The more technical rounds will suit me better, but some of the lads will definitely suit some of the faster courses, so we have a good balance within the team.” Riley said. 

Another of the Elite Development Teams is new to this year’s Series, in the form of World Superbikes rider Scott Redding’s SRCT-MucOff

Team rider Elliot Barratt said the team are driven to get the team some big results.

“The team’s ethos is to create an environment for riders who are 100% in it to win it, so we’re looking to make an impact this year!”

Photo: Harrison Hunter

Talking of new teams, debutants 05/03, will be looking to make make the most the experience to help develop their young squad. Team road captain Harrison Hunter said the main aim is gaining experience for the future, but that they must throw themselves into each and every round. 

You don’t want to be coming into the Tour Series on the backfoot, you don’t want to be nervous and get pushed around

Harrison Hunter, 05/03

“It’s a massive learning experience for the whole team. It’s just learning and getting stuck in, for experience for the coming years especially for the younger guys.  

“You don’t want to be coming into the Tour Series on the backfoot, you don’t want to be nervous and get pushed around. We need to throw ourselves into it and be aggressive from the start!”

One team that has guested in the Tour Series before but is looking to take on a first full Series is Nopinz-Motip

A team from the South-West, which started from a group of friends racing in the lower levels, they are looking to attack the Series to gain a repeat of their podium at their first Tour Series appearance back in 2019. 

“A success for the team is to perform on a round by round basis, to get as many top 5s as possible – we’re not going for the team competition!” Team rider Matt Witts said. 

“This is the year to show our potential as a set-up, so as the talent comes in with better, bigger, stronger riders we can look to battle with the likes of Ribble and Wiv SunGod. 

“It’s just getting the experience and structure in place to be able to take it to them in the future!” Witts said. 

Two final teams will also be hoping to get repeats of their podium finishes in the past. 

The Tekkerz CC team adds flair and plenty of crit racing knowhow to the Tour Series. The team of London rider Alec Briggs will be hoping he goes one step further this season and takes a round win, after finishing runner-up in Castle Douglas last season. A team of strong riders alongside Briggs, they have the opportunity to also take it to the big teams round-by-round.

Tour Series 2021 Round 2 – Sunderland Men’s Race – Wales Academy’s William Roberts takes the victory. Photo: Will Palmer/SWpix.com

Wales Cycling Academy will be looking to build on, and repeat Joe Holt and William Roberts’ results from last year, as they took a second and a win in the first and second rounds respectively in 2021. 

The Academy have a history of producing top-level riders, and they will be looking to display the next top-level Welsh riders at the highest level in the UK. 

All in all, the Tour Series promises to be one of the most competitive and open Series for many years, with ambitious riders to watch out for across the teams. 

Featured photo: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com.

I am a current MA Sports Journalism Student in Liverpool, from Bournemouth. A keen cyclist, I also write about cycling, football, rugby, cricket, formula 1 and other sports!