Talkingshop – John Herety and the Tour of Britain


Gordon Wiseman talks to the most experienced team manager in Britain, John Herety about the stages in the 2014 Tour of Britain and the team he’ll want for it

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Talkingshop – John Herety and the Tour of Britain
By Gordon Wiseman

The organisers of this year’s Tour of Britain revealed the route for September’s eight day race in a glitzy affair at London’s Canary Wharf on Monday evening.


Race Director Mick Bennett goes through the route. 

Straight after the route details were announced, John Herety, team manager of the successful Rapha Condor-JLT outfit, told what he thought of each stage, talked about how the race might develop and how the route might affect the make-up of his team’s squad for the race.

[pullquote]Herety: “We’ve seen a very, very tough course presented to us tonight, probably one of the hardest courses we’ve ever experienced in the Tour of Britain”[/pullquote]

This year sees the Tour of Britain attain 2.HC status making it one of the highest ranked stage races on the world calendar. That’s something race organisers SweetSpot are very proud of as it will mean they can attract even more of the world’s top racing teams but still allow national teams such as Rapha Condor-JLT to take part.

In addition to the likes of Movistar, Omega Pharma Quick-Step and Team Sky who rode in the 2013 Tour of Britain, Belkin Pro Cycling, BMC, Giant Shimano and Tinkoff-Saxo will all be bringing the cream of the world’s cycling talent to these shores for the 2014 edition.

And as this year’s race start’s a week earlier than in the past, it’ll avoid the World Team Time Trial championships so that’s almost certainly going to affect the line-up each team sends to the Tour as the professional teams fine-tune their preparation for that coveted title.

Starting in Liverpool and following a route of more than 1350km through Wales, the West country before crossing to the Chilterns, then a loop to Brighton ahead of a grandstand finish in Central London, this year’s race is reckoned to be one of the toughest for a number of years with tough summit finishes and well as high speed city based circuits to test the riders skills.

“We’ve seen a very, very tough course presented to us tonight, probably one of the hardest courses we’ve ever experienced in the Tour of Britain” was how John opened his summary of the route. “I’d suggest it’s going to be a very, very difficult race”.


Stage 1: Sunday 7th September – Liverpool city centre, 130km
““It’s an easy enough start for sure and that’ll be a good way to ease ourselves into it. But that next stage, running into Llandudno, well…”

Stage 2: Monday 8th September – Knowsley – Llandudno, 197km
“I’ve just checked because I actually thought we went over the Great Orme but in fact we skirt it. I think that’s a wise decision. If we’d gone over the Great Orme, I reckon the race would have been over at that point. But even skirting round it, the roads in that area and leading up to the Orme, are still very tough. That’ll be very difficult day and very challenging for everybody”.

Stage 3: Tuesday 9th September – Newtown to The Tumble, 150km
“The finish on The Tumble is going to be very hard, the last 6km rise up at 7%. We know these roads very well, our National Road Race championships has gone over it in the past. And in meetings about this year’s championships we asked the organisers not to go over The Tumble because we think it can sometimes kill the race.

“So to instead finish there for the Tour of Britain, well in British terms, it’s an iconic climb. It’s not in the same sort of league as something on the Tour de France but even so, as far as the UK is concerned, it’s one of the great monuments. It’s great to see it in this race and to have a mountain top finish there is just brilliant to see”.


Above: 2005 and John Herety is briefing the the GB team which including Geraint Thomas, Mark Cavendish, Ed Clancy and stage winner Roger Hammond.

Stage 4: Wednesday 10th September – Worcester – Bristol, 182km
“This will be a hard stage, particularly the finale in Bristol” – a 1km climb in the last 3kms of the race – “I think that’s on the run-in to Clifton and that’s just perfect for those last minute attacks.

“In my mind’s eye I can already picture those last kilometres. In fact, I’ve almost already started picking my team for the race!”

Stage 5: Thursday 11th September – Exmouth – Exeter, 171km
“This will be another very tough day. It’s the opposite route to that we’ve taken in the past but in the middle of the stage over Dartmoor you’re going to go over some very, very serious terrain. The roads are very dead in that area and so very taxing. So this again will be a challenging stage.

“It’s not just the winds and open spaces, the dead roads are probably a bigger factor. And they’re just relentless”.

Stage 6: Friday 12th September – Bath – Hemel Hempstead, 203km
“Sometimes it’s the innocuous looking stages that cause the biggest problems. Going over the Chilterns and the roads we used to use for the Archer, I know just what sort of surprises these stages can bring to something like the Tour. The most trouble is caused when people start to relax, it’s then that things can start to happen”.

Stage 7: Saturday 13th September – Camberley – Brighton, 220km
“This is the longest stage of the race so again will be very difficult. This is perfect if we’re close to the finale for teams to try and launch an attack, especially with Ditchling Beacon being so close to the finish”.


John talking to Sweetspot CEO Hugh Roberts during the Tour of Britain

Stage 8a: Sunday 14th September – London individual time trial, 8.8km
Stage 8b: Sunday 14th September – London circuit race, 88.8km
“The time trial and final road stage around London are always great”.

Then, laughing and referring to the final stage of last week’s Tour of Normandy which John said had finished in a bunch sprint for more years than he’d like to remember – having won the opening stage and held the leader’s jersey for the first three days racing, Rapha Condor-JLT missed the break in the final stage – Herety finished his summary of this year’s Tour of Britain stages by say;

“I’d like to see every race finish on the final day with a sprint. But traditionally, the final stage into London has finished with a sprint and that’s what we’d expect this year as well”.

The discussion then turned to the sort of tactics we can expect to be played out in the race in 2014 and here Herety’s years of experience as both a rider – John rode for his country at the 1980 Olympics and was the 1982 National Road Race champion – and GB and Trade Team team manager (has managed many Great Britain teams on the road in the biggest events open to National Teams), shone through.


John with Kristian House (former King of the Mountains), one of the riders expected to make the men in black team for the 2014 Tour of Britain.

“It’ll be interesting to see that we’ll have more Pro Tour teams here this year and the way the race is controlled. Traditionally in World Tour events, the races kind of follow a formula; once a team has established its lead, they’ll protect it and other teams will wait for significant moments to try to take advantage of any weakness of the leading team. So it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out this year”.

Where does he think a Pro Tour team will be wanting to make their mark on the race to then be able to control affairs to the finish?

“Very early on, straight away on the second stage into Llandudno and then The Tumble. So, as Garmin Sharp are riding, if they bring someone like Dan Martin, The Tumble is the sort of climb he could do very, very well at. And if he was to get a significant lead there, I’d expect that Garmin would be happy to defend that lead right to the finish.”

“Yes the time trial in London could undo things in that scenario but at 9kms you would think that any of the leaders of the Tour of Britain at that stage would be accomplished enough to do a time trial. Maybe not to win the TT but certainly to maximise their time trial capabilities in this sort of stage race.”


Former British Junior Road Race Champion Dan Martin has Grand Tour stages and Classic victories to his name.

“So somebody like Dan, who’ll have been working very hard on his time trialling, will be able to minimise his loses for exactly that sort of situation”.

But the resources available to Herety and Rapha Condor-JLT are but a fraction of the sort of money available to a Pro Tour team. What will he be looking for in his six riders?

“I’ve got a 14-man squad and having now seen the route I think I’ll be using all my climbers for this year’s race. With so few opportunities for the sprinters I’d suggest it’ll take a very good sprinter to get over some of the climbs we’ve seen listed tonight. Pro Tour sprinters, they’ll probably be able to get over the climbs we’ve seen but, realistically, perhaps for domestic sprinters this’ll be a very, very challenging course and they’ll need to raise their game to merit a place in our team.”

“Yes, sprinters being sprinters they’ll be bullish and say they can get over the climbs but I think there will be a reality check when I speak to our sprinters a little bit later on and I tell them that they’ll have to seriously show in some of the hillier races beforehand that they can get over some of those climbs.”


A new signing for 2014, Chris Opie showed he can climb in last years Tour of the Reservoir, winning a stage and then riding the Tour of Britain for UK Youth. He’ll be one of the riders working hard to make sure he’s in the six man team for the Tour of Britain.

“There will be opportunities for sprinters for sure. There’ll be more World Tour teams and the way they control a race, in some ways, the racing could be more controlled and steadier over that terrain and that would help the sprinters.”

“Whatever way the race plays out, it’s going to be a tough one for sure. I’ve already started formulating my team and ruling certain riders out. It’ll certainly be very tough to bring in some of the younger riders from my team into this race and so I’d expect it to be the more experienced riders who’ll line up at the start.”

“But you never know if someone is going to come through during the year. That’s the beauty of having a team like ours and the race programme we have. If they show themselves in the races we do, they will get their chance. It’s as simple as that.”

“ We like to give everyone a fair share of our race programme. But the Tour of Britain is one of the few races where we have to pick the best six riders. Full stop”.


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