Today we have the pleasure of discussing cycle racing with Andy Moore. The Andy Moore Auto Centres Racing team has enjoyed many successes over the past few years and as one of their main sponsors, J E James cycles thought we’d ask how things work in the world of top level amateur cycling.
So Andy, Let’s start with basics – What encouraged you to start a bike racing team and when did the team start competing?
We started four seasons ago and initially the idea was to set a team up to give young, up and coming riders the opportunity to enjoy the success that the bigger teams have had. We found that a lot of these riders just didn’t have the backing so they’d turn up at a race with probably just the bike in the back of a car with no real support or knowledge of what to do. So we thought that if we could put the logistics similar to what a big team have got in place it would be exciting to see how far we could take these guys – to see what they really could achieve. So that was the idea behind the project from the beginning, most people thought it was a far-fetched dream – that we were chasing rainbows. So far it’s proven to be successful.
How did you spot these young riders? Were you at events yourself?
Initially from doing social rides and club rides. I did a particular ride with Bolsover and District Cycling Club and there was a young guy there who looked to have a bit of talent, who was quite a promising rider and had done a tiny bit of racing but not very much. It was him that sparked the enthusiasm from my point of view to suggest that we give him the opportunity. Rather than just turning up at races on your own, why don’t we try and create a little bit of support for you and see how much that will improve your performance.
And has J E James being involved from the very outset?
From that initial contact with the first rider we had, we shortly after experienced a bit of low level success and we then decided to look round to see if we could get sponsors interested in backing the project. We had the enthusiasm for it but the task was to try and convince other organisations that may be interested to get behind it and drive it forward. From that point is where J E James became involved.
So you’ve got all the sponsors now, I believe the Derbyshire Times is also on-board.
Yes, there are plenty more people who have got involved with the project and are excited as we are – they are very supportive. The Derbyshire Times do a lot of the publicity for us, promoting what the guys do. We have companies such as XCP Professional who provide all the lubricants and those kinds of products for the bikes.
XCP lubricants? -Is this from the bike trade or is this a contact through your motor racing background?
It’s a bit of both really. They got interested in what we were doing through the biking side and they saw an opportunity to test some of their products in a racing environment. It was from this point where they got involved.
And the bikes for this season – I know that J E James has provided you with Giant bikes again. You have raced TCR’s in the past but for the past couple of seasons, you have raced Propels?
This will be the second season we have run Propels. To be quite honest, they are an astonishing machine. The ones we are running now are the Advanced Pro 0 with Ultegra Di2 gearing. We ran them last year without any problems at all. They’ve been absolutely flawless. The big advantage with these bikes is the aero effect. They’re a much better bike for the races were riding. They’ve been simply fantastic.
Do you race the bikes as supplied, or do you upgrade in any way – the wheel for example?
We race them as supplied. They only change we make to the bikes is tyres
I know that’s quite common. Is there a brand or model of tyre that the riders or team prefer?
We run, almost exclusively, Continental. The compound seems to suit what the guys like. They prove to be very durable over the season.
I know there is some debate of the benefits of higher volume tyres – 25mm over 23mm. Does the team ride 25’s?
We do ride 25’s now but originally we raced 23’s but the general consensus was that a 25mm was a better tyre to race on. The lads have reported that the 25’s seem to roll much better - which is contrary to what once was thought – that more tyre may create more drag. And particularly in cornering they provide more of a sidewall giving a better angle. And in crit racing this is vital.
And how many young riders have you at the moment?
We are running five riders at the moment in the mainstream and we have a couple of riders that float in and out. It’s worth bearing in mind that we are not a fully Pro team so all our guys have jobs and families etc. So on a whole we tend to run a core of four riders for most events and run a couple of more to suit them and their commitments.
Obviously having jobs and families it must be difficult to train as a team – do they manage to schedule regular training sessions as a team?
Yes, we have a first class coach Paul Jezewski who has knocked all these guys together. He has created sessions for them to do on their own and as a team. It works well both ways. That has been fantastically successful.
So is your racing calendar for the season now planned and in place? Is it mainly crits? Time trials? What’s involved for this season?
We have a mixture. We do quite a lot of open road racing with a few crits including the high profile GP events, such as the Sheffield, Doncaster and the new Cleethorpes GP event. We will also do a few time-trials as well. We find the variety creates a well-balanced rider and benefits them personally as a rider.
I have seen on social media that some of the riders have been taking part in cyclo-cross this winter.
Yes, they seem to enjoy that as well. It’s a good discipline to build the core strength and keep fit over winter.
Does the team always compete as one team? Or is there sometimes in the calendar two different races in different locations and the team splits to race?
We have done this in the past but it depends on what type of event. We have some riders in different categories so we may split and send some riders to do an Elite level ride and other riders to do a category 2, 3 or 4 race. We have a mixed ability of riders that enable us to split the team if need be. We have one Cat 1 rider and majority of Cat 2 with a newer upcoming rider who started out at Cat 4 and is now a Cat 3 progressing nicely.
We have talked a little about sponsorship, but there are a lot of details involved in top level cycle amateur racing as there is at pro level. Travel expenses, kit, nutrition etc. Does Andy Moore Racing cover most of these costs?
It’s a collective effort – a sort of partnership between us and the organisations who support the team. Some sponsors offer products and others may discount what’s available. So everybody pulls together to provide the backing for the team. Everything is in place for this season and each year, we seem to progress a little further which gains more and more interest in the project. It enables us to do better things.
Will the team be at the local GP events this year?
We like to get to all the high profile events as it is great fun for the lads competing against the very best riders. It helps to assess where the riders are at and how they’re performing. So yes, we will be at Sheffield GP, Doncaster GP and the new Cleethorpes GP.
So mainly local, or does the team travel further afield for the races?
We travel the whole of the UK depending on what events are on. In the past we have raced in Norwich, Middlesbrough and York for example. It’s quite widespread.
We mentioned the Derbyshire Times earlier, do you get good press coverage and publicity – do you have your own team web page?
We have a fantastic relationship with the Derbyshire Times and Worksop Guardian. They were very enthusiastic about getting involved with the team from day one. They have supported us all the way and the publicity has been superb. It enables the people out there to see what the guys have been up to. Week in, week out they can check the papers to see what’s been happening. So the media exposure has been excellent
And a dedicated team page - is that something in the pipeline?
We have a team Facebook page which has quite a few followers (well over 500 followers) so people can tap into that to see how the lads are doing. We post regular updates on there.