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On Sunday, the riders in the Cornish team Saint Piran, will have their first UCI race in 697 days and their first as a UCI Continental team. We spoke to Steve Lampier before they left …

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Feature Interview: Steve Lampier (Saint Piran)

On Sunday, the riders in the Cornish team Saint Piran, will have their first UCI race in 697 days and their first as a UCI Continental team. We spoke to Steve Lampier before they left to find out just how much harder it is for UCI teams to get some racing on the continent.

When we spoke, Steve was on his way to the service course to prepare for a big trip to France and some international racing which begins with GP Int. de la Ville – Nogent Sur Oise UCI 1.2 in France. Racing that event will be Steve Lampier, Ollie Maxwell, Joe Evans, Jenson Young, Stephen Bradbury, Bradley Symonds and Ross Holland.

Their block of racing includes
July 18: 76th GP De Nogent su Oise UCI 1.2 (France)
July 25: Perenchies UCI 1.2 city GP (France)
July 26: GP RAF Jonckheere – Westozebeke (Pro Kermesse Belgium)
July 30 to Aug 2: Kreiz Breizh Elites UCI 2.2 (France)

Their race programme is certainly a lot different to how it was supposed to be at the start of the year. “We originally had a load of invites in France and Belgium but we have had ten UCI races cancelled this year plus the British events” Steve explained. “We were due to kick off our season properly about now (start of July) before we go and ride a UCI race on the 18th , 25th and a stage race on the 30th which finishes on the second of August.”

“Normally, we’d travel to the race on the Friday/Saturday and come back straight after the race on Sunday. The French government though changed their entry requirements for Elite sports people and anyone who has not been fully vaccinated has to quarantine for seven days on arrival and that’s most of the team.”

“Eighty percent of our team have not been double vaccinated including me so what that means for the team is that we have to have a seven day quarantine period in France. So what we are doing for the first race on the 18th of July just outside of Paris is we’ll leave ten days before the race. That gives us the quarantine period and time to train properly and then we stay there and do the race in France on the 25th and then we go to Belgium on the 26th (Kermesse) and then we go to do a stage race on the 30th of July until the second of August. That is a big one for us, a good stage race”.

This trip explained Steve is about having one eye on getting some preparation for the Tour of Britain but also giving the races they are doing the respect they deserve and racing them for a result.

The team will have nine riders going over to mainland Europe and the riders for the Tour of Britain will come from those nine unless something unexpected happens from another of their riders. “It is harsh to do that” says Steve, “as the other five riders at home haven’t had any racing but it’s also why we have Liam Holohan in the team, a sort of performance director to see who is doing what training wise and who can handle a four day stage race or a 250km UCI race. He can see that from their training so while riders will say they can, he can see the evidence of whether they can.”

“In our absence, those riders will be holding the fort and there are races they can chase the win in like National Bs and the race at Ilkley. Some of them are preparing for the Tour Series as well so there is a lot to be getting on for them. We have an old school approach in that they have to prove to me they deserve to be in races by getting the results in other races”.

Another of the riders with the team is new signing Jacob Hennessy, a sprinter who won the Under 23 Gent Wevelgem. Jacob is a rider that Steve is really pleased to have in the team. “I’m pretty excited having him in the team and I think he has some unfinished business on the road. I have known him for a while and it is good to see him progress. He is a big asset to the team. He is very bullish in a race and rides as if he owns the race which is a good thing and that will also help others in the team to be more aggressive in the right way.”

Jacob is also known for his sprint which is helpful to the team as their sprint weapon in Chris Opie is stepping away from road racing this year and concentrating on other things. He is, says Steve, still involved in the team but more in a mentor role for some of the riders and doing his own thing”.

For Steve, his racing has mostly revolved around time trials and for a rider doing 48 minute 25’s, Steve is pretty rapid. “They are a means to an end for me. I have always ridden local time trials but now, because we have had time on our hands, I’ve been able to sort my position out to produce the power properly on a TT bike and spend time on the TT bike. With little road racing and a young family as well as a wife working as a nurse on nights, time to go away to some races isn’t as much of an option as it was. So TTs have replaced some of the road racing and it’s been a good distraction. I feel like I have probably benefitted from it but that is yet to be proven when I do some road races.”

The team have had a change of bike and are now riding Lapierre and with the issues in the cycle industry, still in the process of swapping their Colnago’s for the Lapierre. The brand is a popular one in the bike shop of team owner Richard Pascoe (Bike Chain Ricci) and for Steve is a breath of fresh air in the team being a proper sponsorship deal over three years. With Lapierre, says Steve, the team’s riders will be able to do more disciplines like mountain biking as well as road.

Finally, the last subject I bring up is the Tour of Britain. Steve says the race coming to Cornwall is ‘massive, absolutely massive’. “There has been no sporting event of this magnitude in Cornwall ever so when it comes to Cornwall and when people see it with their own eyes, they will be impressed.”

“For Ricci (Richard Pascoe), this is very special too. He’s been involved in cycling all his life. His dad used to work with TI Raleigh back in the day. He’s had his bike shop for 30 years and been instrumental in helping the three Cornish pros that have been racing so far; Tom, Opie and myself. He has supported teams too so for him to have a team in the Tour of Britain is a massive accomplishment. So it is huge for the team as well”.

“A Cornish team with Cornish sponsors – it will be a mega day. Riding a race on home roads will be a dream come true for me” Steve adds.

Asked to give an insight into the stage (1) that will be solely in Cornwall, Steve says “the first half of the stage starting in West Cornwall is hard. It’s known for its short, sharp, punchy hills and they are the roads I grew up riding on. No flat. Then we go through the industrial centre of Cornwall where the mines used to be and then the race goes to the people. The route designers have taken it to the major towns in Cornwall and the last part of the stage will be on a hilly parcour with faster, wider roads and then an uphill finish. There’s 3,000 metres of climbing so I expect it will be a reduced bunch for the finish. WorldTour pros will find it hard but it isn’t outrageously hard for them. It will depend on how the riders take it up. If it was a Premier Calendar event, it would be in ones and twos”.

It is such a massive race for the team that the block of racing they have ahead which includes UCI races, the Tour Series (3 races) and Two Prems (Lancashire & Ryedale) will be racing they can approach all guns blazing. Unlike other years when by the time September rolls around, some riders can be tired mentally and physically. Now, they have a short block of racing and then the years big goal. After that it’s another prem (Beaumont Trophy) and then the British championships week.

Good luck to Steve and his riders in France/Belgium and the races that follow …

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