Tour of Britain 2012

Tom Murray, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke & Dan Craven – Image © markghopkins.co.uk

The 2012 road season is heading for its close and with it comes the Tour of Britain, you will struggle to miss it this year too after all the publicity from the Tour de France and Olympics the Tour of Britain is set to be a big success this year. The streets, towns and fields will be awash with fans new and old drawn to the event by big names and unrivalled access. Now with cycling’s new fame and popularity you won’t even be able to hide from it putting your head in a newspaper, the media will  be full of updates from the race as everyone looks for a British winner come the final dash up through Guildford.

Personally I’ve been lucky enough to ride the Tour of Britain three times in my time as a professional rider in the UK. As a young kid I used to stand on the slopes of Holme Moss just outside of Huddersfield and watch in awe as the riders passed by on their way over to a finish in Sheffield, I never dare dreamt of riding in the race then, to have three finishes on my CV seems a bit crazy looking back. Each time was a different experience, some positive some not so positive but overall I’ve enjoyed all three and am proud to have ridden the race.

The highlight for me was spending a day out front in a two man break on stage 7 of the 2010 edition, to spend a whole day out front in front of the British crowd, clocking up the king of the mountains prizes was pretty special. It was a massive day not just for me but it was the first participation in the Tour of Britain for my team (Team Sigmasport) and everyone involved in Sigmasport as a company too. When the stage finished it had been a defining point of both my career and that of everyone involved in the team from staff to sponsors, it was a great feeling to be part of that. Since then plenty has happened and this season in particular has seen some ups and downs, but to always have that day in the Tour of Britain to my name is a pretty good feeling.

Tom Murray Tour of Britain – Stage 7 – 2010 – © Mike Morley

The 2012 edition will see others riders clock up their day in the limelight, maybe define their careers or maybe their step onto a bigger stage. For some riders it may be the biggest event they ever compete in, for others it may be a relatively small week out, but that’s part of the races beauty, riders of different experience and reputation mix and become equal for one week. The guys that define their careers may not be the ones at the top of the result sheets at the race finish. They might not be your Olympic hero’s or World Tour stars, everyone has the chance to write some headlines, I didn’t think I’d be grabbing any in 2010! This Tour of Britain as ever looks even more difficult than the year before; the organisers seem to have a good talent for hunting out some of the most challenging terrain out there. Having raced up Caerphilly Mountain once in the 2011 race, heading over twice will really test those at the business end of the race and could really cause some race defining splits; it will certainly be a day that the classification hopefuls will have to be aware. The stage in and around Stoke always provides a hard days racing, with not just climbs but often exposed sections over the top of the climbs to contend with and heading through the challenging countryside around Dumfries could possibly see the race split to pieces. If the weather of the past few years in this area pays a visit again it could be the hardest day of the race.

Possibly alongside Caerphilly Mountain the defining stage for the Overall Classification though is most likely to be stage 7 over Dartmoor. The area is defined by short but incredibly steep climbs, from my own past experience; although the stage in this area has not yet defined the classification it has the potential to do so. Previous years have always allowed groups to reform before the finish after lengthy changes, maybe this year that won’t be the case.

Whatever happens in the 2012 edition though, the Tour of Britain is already guaranteed to be a success. The next generation of riders will be standing on a hillside somewhere watching the race come by much like I did. Maybe they will form part of the Tour’s peloton a few years down the line, maybe even write themselves some headlines along the way.

Keep an eye out on Cycling Shorts for more on the 2012 Tour of Britain.
 
 
 

What’s in a team name?

Team IG-Sigma Sport Presentation 2012 - Image ©Copyright Team IG-Sigma Sport

Team Sigmasport-Specialized of 2011 has become Team IG-Sigmasport of 2012, to most this is a name change and not much else but in reality it’s a lot more than that, it’s a new direction and a great new opportunity but it’s also a great reflection on the direction cycling is taking in the UK at the moment.

The last two years has seen a lot of development within the Sigmasport-Specialized team and it’s been great to be part of it. Since I joined the team for the 2010 season we have gone onto become UCI registered, take in the Tour of Britain, Tour Series, Premier Calendars, stood on national podiums and enhanced our reputation across the water in Europe competing in France, Belgium and Holland. The team’s development has mirrored that of the flagship store of Sigmasport down in Kingston Upon Themes, which now operates out a grand new building and feeds the ever growing appetite of a new breed of cyclists.

It’s been exciting to be involved with the development, as a fan of the sport you see us riding around criterium’s or plugging through road races, but it’s not all about the racing. Spending time with sponsors and promoting events and products is just as much part of the job now. As interest in the sport has grown, so has the responsibility to be accessible and open to your own sponsors and the public who want to become involved at events throughout the year.

So now moving into 2012 the team has taken a new step, another stage in its development. IG Markets have come on board as title sponsor and our role as riders has grown even more diverse and important.  The first month of the season has seen me standing on the rooftop of IG Markets in Central London for a photoshoot, heading fourteen hours across the world to Singapore for a Criterium, doing laps of Manchester Velodrome with a camera attached to the bike and having a shiny launch of new kit and products in the big smoke of London. Of course there’s been some bike racing too, that is after all the ‘day job’, in fact it’s been a strong start for the team in its new guise with five race wins already under the belt.

It’s race wins that make a successful team but with cycling’s new corporate popularity and with more and more of the wider public choosing to watch and become involved in the sport it’s key to be open and accessible to develop that ‘ownership’ vibe so people in the offices of IG Markets of whoever your sponsor may be can relate to you and truly feel part of the team and journey.

After stepping off the plane in Singapore and having some rest we were taken to meet some of the IG Markets employees of the Singapore office, while they enjoyed meeting the faces behind the jersey’s they see and support, it was great for us as riders to meet people that follow you from half way across the globe. They may follow us through social media or websites but now they have a face to put to the image and report too, it was great to develop that link with them.

It’s great that cycling while increasing in popularity and demand does keep this accessibility. So a team name for us this season is much more than just a shuffling of the title, it’s an opportunity to push the team in new places and develop the connection the public and sponsors have with the team both at events and away from them. It give’s everyone a slice of the action!

 

You can see Team IG-Sigmasport at all of Britain’s top races this season and follow them through both Twitter and Facebook. You can now also log into the riders training and race information through the Strava website and find out more details on the team’s own website.  Now you can’t get anymore helpful than that!

Minty
 
 
 
 

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