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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.