To paraphrase George Orwell, it was a case of four wheels good, two wheels better at Thursday night’s launch of the 2010 Rapha Condor Sharp cycling team at the Classic Car Club on London’s Old Street.
Surrounded by a host of eye-catching cars including vehicles by classic marques such as Jaguar and Mercedes, the assembled throng had eyes only for the Condor bikes that the team will be riding during the coming season, ahead of the introduction of the riders by broadcaster and keen cyclist Robert Elms.
Attendees included commentator Phil Liggett, and Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp, a recent convert to road cycling after long-term friend Elms introduced him to the sport, who copped a bit of good-natured flak for turning up wearing one of last season’s Rapha scarfs, and promised to buy one of the newer versions – which you may recall attracted a bit of discussion here on road.cc when we reviewed it recently.
As you’d expect, given the heritage of their original two title sponsors, the team’s bikes and kits are beautifully styled, with the familiar pink and white accents offsetting the black Condor Leggero frames and Rapha jerseys and shorts – although Kristian House, of course, will be racing at least until July in the British National Champion’s jersey, with his bike custom-finished with red white and blue highlights to match.
House is relishing riding in those colours, and told road.cc that he’s aiming to hang on to the jersey after this year’s National Championships in an exclusive interview which we’ll bring you very soon.
New recruits joining House and other riders including Tom Southam and Dean Downing are two Australians, Zak Dempster, a graduate of the Australian Institute of Sport, and Dean Windsor.
Following its launch, the team is holding a three-week pre-season training camp in Spain, and will make its competitive debut in the Singapore Criterium in March.
Team manager John Herety says that the outfit will employ a two-tier system throughout 2010, with members switching between the two squads depending on their fitness and goals and hopefully providing some healthy competition for places in major domestic and continental events that the team hopes to compete in, such as the Tours of Britain and Ireland and of course the Tour Series.
New sponsor Sharp was also introduced at the launch, with the UK managing director, Paul Molyneaux, disclosing that the opportunity to back the team first arose when he visited Rapha to kit himself out for his participation later this year in the Race Across America, which he will ride as part of a four-man team under the company’s Sharp4Prostrate initiative.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.