Feature Interview: Roger Hammond of Madison Genesis


Talking to former professional in Europe Roger Hammond who has strengthened the Madison Genesis pro team for 2014

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Roger Hammond of Madison Genesis

A new team in 2013, Madison Genesis had its team launch at Madison’s headquarters in Milton Keynes on Thursday where all but two of the team were presented to press and dealers. In 2013, the team were there or thereabouts in the British pro races but overshadowed by UK Youth and team Raleigh when it came to the results.


The informal team shot with Roger Hammond on the left. (it was actually a test shot but I like it better!)

For 2014, a winner for Madison Genesis, Dean Downing left for a new team in his retirement year and Brennan Townshend has gone to France. In their place come seven new riders increasing the overall size of the team and also making it a lot stronger.

Chances are, better results should be on the cards for 2014 because of those changes.

In charge at the team is a former professional, Roger Hammond who has a great insight into how pro teams work and also the mind of the ambitious rider wanting to race in Europe. Running a team was very new to him in 2013 but he’s confident that, after a lot of mistakes and learning from them, 2014 will be a much better year for the team.

Prior to the launch of his team at his sponsors headquarters, I spoke to Roger who in his riding days was a World Champion as a junior in cyclo-cross, third at Paris Roubaix, a multi stage winner in the Tour of Britain and always a potential podium in the Spring Classics.

During his career, he raced for the World’s top teams including Garmin and he brings a lot of that experience to a team which he sees as a vehicle to helping riders go on and fulfil their dreams as pro bike riders as well as bring the sponsors publicity through those same riders winning races.


First question was about the changes and why they were made? “We have changed the strength in depth of the team” Roger explained. “It was always part of the plan to last year have a small close knit team racing with minor rotations through the year working on the proviso on average, you will be without one or two riders due to injury and sickness throughout the year.”
“The season is long, really long, and the level of racing is developing in Britain and we have to move with the times and that means every race you go to from January to October, is flat out. It was a big ask for last year’s riders to perform for the entire season so that meant we started having low periods during the season where we still had to race and that doesn’t do anyone any good.”

“So what we have tried to do is introduce more riders, add more versatility in the team with more strength in-depth so that we can rotate the core of the team within the rotation of the team. So now we can have two rotations; the core of the team and the whole of the team. Hopefully, with that we can then balance motivation, form and racing at the right time.”

I then asked Roger were any of the signing of riders to do with the British scene having two types of racing, circuit and the longer road races?

“Maybe it is me” he replies “but I never won a bike race because I could ride a bike for eight hours or nine hours, I won bike races because I could ride very fast over ten minutes. You win bike races by riding fast over ten minutes whether that’s in a criterium or up the Poggio at the end of a 315k Milan San Remo.”

“For me, it’s the mentality of a rider. If you think you can’t ride crits because you think you’re a road rider or vice versa, then you won’t be able to do it. But, if you take the Sky way of thinking, a crit race is a one hour threshold effort, which they do on a mountain within a stage race. If you break it down to what the event asks of your body, they are not too dissimilar (road races and crits).”

“I believe physically they can do it, mentally maybe not but that is a thing we need to change with education. I’d be wrong though just to force it so that is why we have added some rotation so we can rotate more for the mind rather than the body.”


Roger Hammond and a passion of his – cyclo-cross. He was also rather good and dominated the British champs for many a year on top of having been a World Champion (Junior).

It is a view I’ve never heard said before and shows what a breath of fresh air Roger is to the scene here in Britain. Roger is perhaps a rider’s manager or coach rather than a manager’s manager. Some one acutely aware of what it takes to win races as a rider & team. The learning curve for Roger is managing his riders and team as well.

Part of that is knowing when to race his riders and right now with the British season not due to get into full swing until April, his job is holding his riders back. Which is why Roger’s team is going on it’s training camp now rather than January.

“My guys are ringing me up all the time asking ‘when are we going on camp’, and my reply is ‘what’s the point of going too early?’. Just because everyone else is doing it in January, I don’t see the point of that. So we are doing the camp later”.

“They are chomping at the bit to get started but what would the point of that be? To win the Eddie Soens? It’s a nice race to win but I’d much prefer them to win a stage in the Tour of Britain in September rather than win Eddie Soens and then be on their knees in September. That’s the idea anyway”.

“You have to try some different ideas. Sky got a lot stick for going to Tenerife and living on a mountain for a month before the classis but the criticism was because it went wrong for them. Had they won every classic, I can tell you what every other pro team would be doing this year! So unless you try these things and experiment, then how do you make that advantage over everyone else”.


Liam Holohan walks towards the stage to be grilled by Matt Stephens.

Roger admits he had things to learn during last season having been a pro in Europe for so long. “The one thing I lost not being in the UK for a long time was not knowing the riders personally. So over the last year, I got to do that, their mentality, what they wanted from their careers, where they were now.”

“We have addressed the changes needed and I hope I have some guys now that have the mentality to move forward. For me, the thing about this team’s success is how many riders go on and moves up to the next level and becomes a better bike rider”.

“They have got to want to be better bike riders; I can’t make them want to do it. I am looking for that mentality and that mentality is that of a winner. It has to be because they can’t get to where they want to be without winning.”

I then asked about two star signings, riders who won races in 2013 and showed themselves at the front of bike races. Mike Northey and Tom Scully, both from New Zealand.

Roger explained how in British races they can’t use race radios which means when the riders leave the start, he has very little say in what happens.
“I can’t have an input and we really lacked last year a guy who had the confidence, the ability and character to be an on the road leader so I ended up forcing that onto people who weren’t comfortable with it.”

“I never liked it as a bike rider. It takes a very special person, and that’s why those guys get a lot of money because they have a lot of pressure, and they still have to perform as a bike rider and there are very few of them out there.”

“So, in that respect, we have the guys who have the ability and I think Mike Northey is a fantastic bike rider, very nice temperament and I think he will be a huge asset to the team. Tom (Scully) comes with his own assets.”

“He has a winning mentality and winners breed winners and that’s what we want this year. I’m not saying we’re going to win this or that but what we want is for the guys to achieve their dreams and winning has to become part and parcel of that because that is how they differentiate themselves from the other 900 pros in Europe trying to get that one job they want.”

“We just want that nice, winning, get on with it, mentality”.


One of the top riders in the Tour Series last year without winning a round, Tobyn Horton.

The team have also signed some more young riders such as Scott Davies who is a first year senior and Tom Stewart who has had two seasons on the road and was so outstanding, Raleigh picked him up mid 2013 to ride for them. They join the likes of the rather shy Alex Peters who did some great rides in 2013 including getting in the Tour of Britain team.

“It was a fantastic debut year for Alex” says Rogers “and that is what the team is about. It is about developing these guys. Each one of the riders has their story. Tom Scully has his like why is he riding with us when I think he should be riding World Tour?”

“It’s because he snapped his leg, his career was delayed and he was left on the shelf because he’s ‘too old’. That’s’ not right so we want to give these guys the opportunity to come back and start again.”

“Tom Stewart started late and was a mountain bike rider. Does that means he’s a bad bike rider? Of course it doesn’t. It means he started late so we’re giving that guy the opportunity to develop into a World Tour rider and take that career path. They all have the potential to further their career and improve.”

“I am really looking forward to working with this guys”.


The youngster in the team Scott Davies. Last year it was  Alex Peters (centre) but in 2014, Scott is the one coming out of the junior ranks into the senior racing.

A season as a DS – ‘green as’ says Roger
Roger certainly seems to have thought carefully about his signings and has had the backing of his sponsors to have the resources to bring them to the team. But what about the job of managing. Anyone who has planned their own season, hotels, bikes, spares, food, etc etc, there is so much to the job of a DS/manager that it can quickly over come a person.

I have seen former pro riders struggle but Roger, whilst admitting it was a steep learning curve, admits he has a lot of help from his sponsors when it comes to some of the logistics of the job.

“It was a huge learning curve last season and I said at the same time last year that even though some one can ride a bike fast sometimes, that doesn’t mean you can manage a group. I was green as but I am enthusiastic about bike racing.”

“I know where those guys need to be so I am combining the mentality of a British rider and the mentality of a European pro. I’m trying to change their mentality to thinking how they need to be for them to get to where they want to be (Europe). Because they all want to be there but they all have the British mentality so we’re trying to forget that.”

“Yes, we are competing here but I’m trying to bring that different mentality and experience to the UK scene.”

“I learned a lot last year. I never had so many emails in my entire life! I had to learn to type and learn about logistics as well as other tricks”.

“There were tricks I learned as a bike rider like I had my poem for packing my kit so I never forgot anything like my shoes and I had my structure for getting to the airport so in my whole career, I never missed a flight. All those tricks in my career, I’m having to use in this one like how do I cope with 15 riders asking for 15 different things at 15 different times of the day and remember them all”.

“So last year was about developing that and I made lots of mistakes. But hopefully I have learnt from them. I had a short career as a road bike rider so one thing about being a successful bike rider during that time is you learn from those mistakes.”

“The difference between a bike rider and manager was as a rider, whatever I put in was directly reflected in my results and performance. Now, with me, what I put in isn’t necessarily reflected in the result.”

“So that was what I had to get my head around. I can only give them as much as I can and once the gun goes at the start, I’m out of control and I don’t like being out of control! So I have had to learn to adapt to that as well.”

It was only a ten minute interview but it was also a fascinating one. As Roger said when we finished, ‘that’s the theory, ask me again at the end of the season’.


The riders and Roger get a briefing from Matt Stephens on the launch

Just the very fact he has signed the riders he has for similar money to what they were offered elsewhere says a lot about the respect he commands from those riders. For sure, he has his theories and other managers will have their own views on them but there is no denying he has riders who are proven winners and as such, Roger’s team should on paper, have a more successful year.

The team are off on Saturday morning to Majorca for a training camp so their wait for that first season win in Britain will have to wait. We did see some of the riders competing last weekend in Lancs at the Clayton Spring Classic but there was no fairy-tale beginning.

Maybe that will come later on in March in some national B races after they return from Majorca or perhaps in April for the first Prem of the season, the two day and ever so grippy Tour of the Reservoir. That is, says Roger, the first big race for them as a team.

“We tried to go for the Tour of Normandy and for a three day in Belgium but we’re a new team and don’t have a lot of heritage so that makes it difficult. You see British teams getting the invites to Europe but they are the guys who have been around a long time like John Herety who was manager of the national team and then Rapha so he has 20 years head start on us, and the same with Raleigh who have the heritage.”

“There are a 146 continental teams in the World so we are up against it. So I’ll have to call in my favours but I prefer to use them later on when the season is well under way. We did Taiwan in 2013 and we had the option this year but it’s too early for the British riders.”

“They’d come back and then have six weeks before they raced again so I’ll save that money and use it in June and July when we can profit from it”.

Thanks to Roger for the interview. A pleasure as always.


Watch out for the name Tom Stewart in 2014. He’s made great progress in two seasons and he may well go on and move up another level with Roger’s help.

Madison Genesis 2014 – The Riders

Ian Bibby
Scott Davies
Pete Hawkins
Matt Holmes
Liam Holohan
Tobyn Horton
Dom Jelfs
Mike Northey
Alex Peters
Tom Scully
Chris Snook
Tom Stewart
Andy Tennant


One of the team’s top riders, Ian Bibby talks to Matt whilst Peter Hawkins stands rock steady (good jaw line Peter!)!

Other Results on VeloUK (including reports containing results)

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