Milton Keynes played host this weekend to the launch of the new Twenty3c-Orbea racing team, well it is the home of their title sponsor, Twenty3c… and very central too.
The new 12 man strong team builds on the success of last year's Orbea - For Goodness Shakes outfit and takes things on another level adding new riders to the core of last year's team including overseas talent in the shape of Rafa Rodriguez Segarra from Elche, Spain and Gunnar Gronlund from Skara, Sweden. Former Premier Calendar winner Rob Sharman is another classy addition as is National U23 Time Trial Champion Andrew Griffiths and talented young riders Mike Cuming and Dan Shand likely to be much in evidence over the course of the season.
“We’ve had a fantastic first weekend together as a team,” said Sports Director Steve Skuse. “The riders gelled together as a team from the start and it was great to see them out on the roads, having fun but working hard.”
Skuse is confident that the riders can step up and really make their mark on the UK scene in the forthcoming season, “Twenty3c-Orbea has big ambitions for 2011 and we’ve got the firepower to back it up. Rafa Rodriguez Segarra is a very classy rider and a proven winner at the highest level, Rob Sharman will be back to his best after a very promising 2010, his first racing season for three years and we definitely haven’t seen the best of Marcel Six yet. He’s been training really well all winter and is super motivated for the new season. We’ve got the experience and strength of team stalwarts Andy Lyons, Dean Shannon and James Whatling and then some serious young talent in Andrew Griffiths, Mike Cuming, Dan Shand, Kristian Downs, Gunnar Gronlund and Lewis Atkins. This is going to be a very big year for Twenty3c-Orbea.”
New recruit, Spanish rider Rafa Rodriguez Segarra was really impressed with the set up and the support from the sponsors, “The team presentation has been a great start to a new season in the UK. Meeting all of the team and sponsors and spending some time on the roads together was good fun. We’ve been fitted onto our team bikes by Alan at Twenty3c and I’m really enjoying the atmosphere within the team. 2011 is going to be an exciting year and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in the races.”
National U23 Time Trial Champ, Andrew Griffiths is back riding in the UK after three years in Belgium and is motivated to retain the jersey he won in South Wales in September, “It’s good to be back and to have some fresh challenges. I’ll be working really hard this season with my coach to fine tune my time trialling and aiming for the National “10” and to retain the U23 National Title. I’m really looking forward to racing the Premier Calendar as well. I’ve done a few races over the last few years but it will be good to race a full calendar of them.”
The last couple of years must have been hectic for Alan Finch of headline sponsors Twenty3c who opened the bike shop in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes less than two years ago – no wonder he is looking forward to the season ahead: “It’s a very exciting time for the team and for us as a company. We’re always looking to challenge ourselves and work at the very highest level and partnering the team is key to that. It’s been a very busy time for us, building the team bikes and fitting the riders to them and now we’re looking forward to watching the riders perform at the highest level in the UK.”
As well as the continued association with Orbea another carry over from the 2010 season is the involvement of Shutt VR as clothing supplier to the team - so once again there will be two Sportwool-clad teams on the start lines of Britain's biggest races.