Feature: NFTO Pro Cycling Team Bash in London


In front of industry hitters, the NFT Pro Cycling team had their launch in a swanky West End of London BMW dealership on Thursday night

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NFTO Pro Cycling Team Bash in London



It’s a team that has made the headlines and made a lot of people sit up and take notice and they haven’t event turned a wheel in anger yet. Not with numbers pinned on that is! More headlines will follow after a get together in London on Thursday night.

NFTO Pro Cycling brought together most of their squad for their team launch in a swanky BMW dealership in Park Lane and there to see it were many an industry hitter. Journalists from national newspapers and magazines, the race director of the Tour Series/Tour of Britain Mick Bennett, Sean Yates the team’s DS and MCing from Matt Barbet keeping the light hearted nature of the evening going.


Sean Yates who help guide Bradley Wiggins to victory in the Tour de France whenhe was DS for Team Sky and race director for the Tour of Britain, Ride London Classic and Pearl Izumi Tour Series, Mick Bennett.

The messages were simple enough. In racing, expect the unexpected from the NFTO riders as they try and liven up the racing. Winning yes but it is also about how they race the race.

It was also announced the aim is to go UCI ProConti in 2015 which is a big ambition but then everything about NFTO is big. The star riders are household names in cycling circles as are the people in the background looking after the riders.

A few times during the evening, the words to their rivals were “be afraid” came out amongst all the banter but as one of the riders admitted, at the moment the team is a list of names on paper. What will count will be the racing. We’ll have some feature interviews from the night to come but in the meantime, we grabbed all the riders for a quick fire spot interview during the night. Here are the first two of those with hitters Adam Blythe and James McCallum.


Adam Blythe, who mixes in with the jet set of cycling in Monaco was at the launch and there were certainly plenty of smiles when he was around. Adam explained that the three weeks in Australia were just for training with the team living in together in the same apartment. “We all gelled and got to know each other” he explained.

“We’re all friends and everyone gets along, it’s a great team.”

Sam Williams spoke to VeloUK about how Adam had been helping him in Australia. When I put that to Adam, he’s also mentoring the other riders, he replied “I feel like an old man giving out advice and stuff but a few of the guys are new to the sport and not had some one who knows about biking riding help them. It’s nice for me to be able to help with things so simple as a bike fit for example.”

Asked if the world he is used to, that of chaingangs with riders like Philippe Gilbert and the Monaco cycling jet set is so different to the one here, Adam replies “not really. Bike riding is bike riding at the end of the day. Everyone is competitive and is a bike rider who wants to win races so at the end of the day, everything relates back to bike riding.”

“It’s not about who you are or what team you’re in, we’re still all bike riders and want to win bike races. They’re just ProTour and I’m in England!”


Adam and Phillipe Gilbert during his BMC days.

Finally, asked when are we likely to see him racing, Adam admitted that this is still in the planning stage. “There are a few races like the Soens and all that but I’m not that sure quite what I will be doing. The Tour of Reservoir is the first one I want to go into and win it properly so that is my first main aim. There may be a few races before then though.”

Adam is still based in Monaco where he has a place and although he admits to missing Yorkshire from time to time, Monaco he says is fantastic for training.


James McCallum: New dad James who has plenty to race for in 2014, was a very happy relaxed bike rider with his wife Pam and baby Penelope there to see the team launch.

James explained how his life as an NFTO rider started halfway through last season. “I bumped into Deano (Dean Downing) at a race and was having a chat and I was kind of thinking about hanging my wheels up at the end of 2013 and he said “if you’re interested, come and have a chat and so I sat down with Dean and Mr (John) Wood and we came up with an arrangement that suited me perfectly.”

“I have loved my time with every team I have been with and maybe some times been to selfless and perhaps need to look after myself a bit more and I saw this as an opportunity to have more time for myself and do more for me as a bike rider before I hang up my wheels.”

“The team have been have been great to me, Sam (Harrison) and Mouldy (Jon Mould). I can have July off for the Commy Games which for me is a massive goal. “

James explained how the Scottish people are loving the fact the Commonwealth Games are coming to their country in 2014. “Both sessions of the Revolution in Glasgow were sold out and the crowds were unbelievable. It was the same with the British Road Race Championship where I couldn’t go a 100 metres without my name being mentioned.”

“You’re riding round, lap after lap and they are still shouting for you with the same enthusiasm they did the first time. I’m thinking, how do these people know me, when did this happen! I could not think of a better place to end my run at that level. For me it’s going to be just so exciting I just want to get there, and get it done.”

“I think people will be surprised when they come there and see what the Glasgow people put on. It’s going to be a fantastic show.”


James McCallum getting a ‘grilling’ from  Matt Barbet.

Asked what he feels his role will be in NFTO, James replied, “we have four guys in the team like myself, Adam and the Downings who have the confidence to make the shouts we need and the young guys have the confidence in us to make those shouts whether its riding for one of them or one of us”.

“It’s just about getting this team winning bike races whether it’s me or someone else. I just want us winning bike races.”

“You don’t go away to be apart from family and friends battering yourself to finish second or third. It happens but every bike race you turn up to it’s about winning. For me this year is about getting the team on the map. Right now, everyone is talking about they are such a strong team, but it’s just names on a bit of paper. We haven’t raced or won anything yet but I am pretty sure it won’t take long before it happens.”

Finally, when asked about his preparation for the Commonwealth Games, James admits the Pearl Izumi Tour Series fits the bill perfectly. “It gives you that real high intensity work load for the track racing as well as the road race which has a criterium element to it. So, for me, the Tour Series is perfect and for me, this will be my sixth Tour Series since the first one. I’ve done every series!”

“The level of the Tour Series now is astounding. Every year it gets harder and harder because there are more organised teams and full time bike riders. You don’t just have twenty or thirty guys like in the beginning. Every single rider there, even those in the guest teams, are stronger and so the level just goes up and up and up.”

“This year for sure will be the hardest Tour Series there has ever been.”

In Part Two, we’ll catch up with more of the riders in the team … watch this space!


National circuit race champion Russell ‘Fonzy’ Downing who looks up to the team’s ”tank’, James Lewis


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