Halfords Tour Series Rookies: Hope Factory RT

VeloUK talks to Paul Oldham about his team getting a spot among the ten teams for the 2012 Halfords Tour Series

Paul Oldham, second from the right, represents his team Hope Factory Racing at the launch on Thursday (April 19).

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It’s mid morning in a smart café at the Mitchell Arts Centre (Stoke-on-Trent) and sitting opposite each other are two riders, friends and training buddies, who in many respects are very evenly matched on the bike off road but for the Halfords Tour Series, poles apart when it comes to their teams.

Ian Wilkinson has won individual rounds as well as the series with the Halfords team and is now part of a team that are favourites for the series; Endura Racing. Paul Oldham meanwhile is more normally found racing off road and having been British Cyclo-Cross champion, is obviously quite a rider. But for Paul and Hope Factory RT, the Halfords Tour Series is going be a challenge as well as a big opportunity to have some ‘fun’ racing and also provide their sponsor with a lot of publicity.

Paul Oldham is a regular at the Colne Elite Circuit Series race so as well as being one of the country’s top cyclo-cross riders and a former British champion who has represented his country, he also knows how to throw a bike around a tight street circuit.

Anyone who has done the Halfords Tour Series in whatever capacity, rider, official, part of the event crew or even a photographer (!) will know how tough the series is. It’s a test of endurance on one hand, and for riders, a test of their speed and recovery powers as well. Hope Factory RT are one of three new teams in this series and Paul admits he and the team were surprised to get selected.

“We’re a new road team this year and to be honest, we didn’t expect to get selected for the whole Tour Series so it’s a big opportunity for the team really.”

Paul and Ian live in Lancashire, and very proud of that too, and as they train together, Paul says the two of them have talked about the series a lot. “I’ve been to watch a few as well and thought I really want to be involved in this and now we are. We’re going to have to make the most of it. We are an amateur team compared to the professional outfits so it’s a case of doing what we can in the series.”

 Paul and Dave Collins (right) racing for Hope RT in the DoonHame two day in Scotland two weeks ago.

And make no mistake, Paul and his team deserve to do well just for having the balls of taking on the challenge when as well as the racing, they also work full time like a lot of the riders in the smaller teams. “I’ll be at work on Monday’s, Wednesday and Friday’s for a month” says Paul, “and it’s going to be a tiring four weeks! I’ve got to try not to race on the weekends and recover I think.”

It is a challenge that Paul is looking forward to and he’s mindful of what sort of racing he’s doing. Paul says he’s working on his sprinting and has changed his training to suit the racing he’ll be facing in this series. Paul is also motivated by the fact so many of the top riders he’ll be racing with are former off roaders. Not just his friend Ian but riders like Ian Bibby, Simon Richardson and Jonny McEvoy have all had to fight for their victories in mountain biking or cyclo–cross with Paul.

Dave Collins, another of the established riders in Hope Racing Team.

On Tuesday at a little circuit in Manchester, Under 23 rider Jack Clarkson of Hope Factory Racing won a circuit race for 2/3/4 riders. In the Halfords Tour Series, Hope Factory Racing, will be taking the step up to face the best crit riders in Britain, maybe the world, and at the same time enjoy being part of what is the World’s top crit series. Eleven races in less than a month right round Britain with all the razzmatazz and camaraderie that comes with being part of the event.

Good luck to Paul and Hope Factory RT and see you in Scotland!


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