Former motor racing Formula 1 star Nigel Mansell and 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt have teamed up for an assault on next year’s Halfords Tour Series, with the big Swede getting back in the saddle to lead a new squad, named Team UK Youth after the charity with which both sportsmen are closely involved.
The 1992 Formula 1 world champion and his sons Leo, aged 25 and Greg, 23, rode alongside Backstedt on a 1,200-mile ride around Britain in support of the charity, of which Nigel Mansell is president, as it celebrated its centenary earlier this year.
During that ride, Backstedt “spotted some immense talent in the two boys,” and after talking with the Mansell family agreed to come out of retirement to lead the team, which aims “to inspire the young people of Britain that anyone can achieve their dreams with a lot of determination and support from those around them” next season.
The brothers, who competed with their father in the 2010 Le Mans series, will be joined in the squad by two other riders from Jersey, where the Mansell family lives and Backstedt, himself based in South Wales, owns a cafe and bike shop, as well as the young Swedish rider Freddy Johanssen.
Speaking at the UK Youth centenary gala dinner, Backstedt said: "I am delighted to come back on to the pro-cycling circuit with such talented people around me. The pro-cycling world needs to watch out for the talents of these guys - they are champions of the future.
“To lead the UK Youth team is something that is very important to me,” continued the Swede, who is vice president of the organisation. “It is a charity that supports over 750,000 young people in Britain, and everyone of them is such an inspiration to me" said Magnus on his announcement at the UK youth centenary gala dinner.”
Charlotte Hill, CEO of UK Youth said: "I cannot say thank you enough to Magnus for leading the UK Youth Team in 2011. He truly is an amazing guy, and I am sure the talents of the guys will ensure that the UK Youth Team will inspire a whole new generation of young people to reach for their dreams in life. “
She added: “I don't think there has ever been any team in any sport who has aligned with a charity the way Magnus has aligned his team to UK Youth. We are so honoured by his action."
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.