Team One Pro – Yanto Barker Interview


Yanto Barker – Talking to a key rider in the new British team One Pro Cycling which had its launch in London on Tuesday night plus quotes from team founder Matt Prior

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Team One Pro – Yanto Barker Interview


Yanto Barker wins the first major British race of 2015, the Perfs Pedal.

On Tuesday night, a new UCI team was launched in a swish do in London where the main sponsor for three years was revealed, Tesco clothing brand F & F who are also supplying the team’s off the bike suits. The on the bike kit however is being supplied by a legend in the sport, Yanto Barker of Le Col.

The team is expected to be around for at least three years which is great news for the sport, and the riders and of all the people in the team, Yanto is by the far the most experienced. In recent years, Yanto has shown the best form of his life in winning classics like the Lincoln Grand Prix as he did last year with Raleigh-GAC.

So far, the media spotlight is falling on South African born England cricketer Matt Prior rather than the riders as the national press takes an interest in the team. That’s a good thing because so far the national press only seem interested in Team GB and the British pro racing scene is largely ignored.

Prior though talks of taking his team to the World Tour in an interview with the Telegraph. “I am hugely serious about this. I do think that five years is a realistic target. A year in sport is a long time. And actually you have to look to keep improving. There is no room for stagnating. The minute you become comfortable you get lazy.”

Prior adds, “You have some guys who set up teams because they quite like the idea of riding with pro cyclists, taking them to their mate’s coffee shop or whatever. That is not what I am doing,” he explains. “We want to sign the top riders, we want to compete in the top races. Why wouldn’t you want to become as big as you can possibly be?”

Having the backing of a major brand for three years will be helpful in that quest and I am sure many will remember the doubters when Dave Brailsford spoke of Team Sky winning the Tour de France within five years. Something he went on to do with Wiggins and Froome.

But WorldTour requires sponsors with very deep pockets and it is very different to being a domestic UCI team especially with the salaries of the top riders being more than the budget of local UCI team. Prior’s team is starting off at UCI Continental level, the first rung of the UCI ladder and more of what he and the team are doing will be revealed tonight when the name of the major sponsor which appears on the jerseys will be revealed and also news of a membership scheme.

A new version of UK Youth
With five riders from the very successful UK Youth team funded by another major sports star in Nigel Mansell, comparisons will be made between the two teams even though One Pro Cycling are keen to reject such links.


The dominant team in the 2013 Pearl Izumi Tour Series, UK Youth celebrate after winning with Nigel Mansell and manager Dave Povall. Five of the above riders are in One Pro Cycling.

Yanto Barker, Marcin Bialoblocki, Josh Hunt, Jon Mould and Chris Opie were all part of a team that, after having been around for a few years , for one year was strengthened to the point it dominated the Tour Series in a way that took many, me included, by surprise.

A key element in that success was the coaching of Steven Benton and he is a major part of One Pro Cycling and indeed, his presence in the team has drawn riders to the squad.

Over recent weeks, talking to riders and other coaches, Steve’s part in the success of pushing riders to being the very best they can be and taking them out of their comfort zone is a major reason for the success of his riders such as Chris Opie and Jon Mould, both within UK Youth and beyond that team.

Some of the elements from the UK Youth of 2013 are missing. Ian Wilkinson for example has stayed loyal to the sponsors (Raleigh-GAC) that gave him their backing in 2014 and the manager at UK Youth, Dave Povall, heads up a strong NFTO team.

But One Pro Cycling is expected to be a force to be a reckoned with and whilst they dominated the Perfs Pedal, stiffer challenges will lie ahead in March before the first big test in April at the Chorley Grand Prix, the first ‘Prem’ of the year.


Yanto Barker in full cry during the final round of the 2013 Pearl Izumi Tour Series

Winner in 2014 of what was for many years called the Premier Calendar, and is still called this by riders and fans alike, was Yanto Barker. The Lincoln winner put his name on the Star Trophy for winning that series and like many in the team he captains, Yanto is very thorough when it comes to preparing for a season of racing. These days, with the level so high in British racing, ‘marginal gains’ is a key element in a team’s preparations for an intense six month season here in the UK. More and more teams are engaging in team coaches and making sure their riders perform to their best.

Teams are also keen to get some stage racing in before the major British races. This however hasn’t been helped this year by several French races being cancelled and forcing some British teams that were to ride them to either race National B races in Britain or go to a training camp in warmer weather.

When it comes to being ready for that first battle in Chorley, every little helps and the planning and the training are key which is why Steve Benton is an important part of the team’s plans.

Once upon a time, racing was thought to be a key part of the preparation needed for even bigger races hence why stage races are so popular. Races help teams get their act together on the road ahead of big races and have everyone all singing from the same hymn sheet. But, when it comes to rider’s fitness, in many ways these days, the training can be harder than the races.

Yanto mentioned that one element missing in training, especially alone, is adrenalin but a telling quote from Lizzie Armitstead that last year the Worlds Road race was easier than her training says it all. And with a coach like Steve Benton pushing his riders boundary’s in training, there is little doubt that the riders will be physically ready for that first battle.

The One Pro Cycling teams result in the Perfs Pedal, filling the first four places, showed just how physically and tactically good they were even though Yanto explained afterwards, they could have been ‘tighter’.


Yanto (left) leads a strong group with four of his teammates at the front of the Perfs Pedal.

At the Perfs, Yanto helped get their season off to a winning start and he told VeloUK “I think the team is coming together well. We have been back for a few days from our first training camp in Majorca which was a bit miserable (the weather I hasten to add) but we got a good training load in and everyone is going well.”

“The team dynamics are really good and everyone is gelling excellently so I’m really excited about that. It’s kind of the first major objective achieved, getting to know everybody. It was an important get together for all the riders, more for them than me as I’m the senior rider in the team and I do know everybody apart from one or two.”

“Majorca was the first proper training time together. We’d had a meeting in London but Majorca was the first extended period of time together. What was important for the senior members of the management and the coach to understand was who needs what specifically and that they given that so they can stay feeling positive and happy about the team.”

“What they will be contributing and who to because there are certain riders who are going to win and others who will help with that winning.”


Asked why the team were at the Perfs Pedal when the other UCI teams stayed away for various reasons including staying out of trouble, Yanto replied “for us, it’s the first race of the year and I have done it plenty of times before and I think it’s a great race.”

“If you look at the race history, it has been running for a long time (50 years) and for me it is important to support the organisers who come out here each weekend. It’s not easy putting on races, it’s not cheap, and for me, I’d like to see the other teams take it a bit more seriously because if you look at the past winners, you have Alex Dowsett, Julian Winn, Sean Yates and plenty of big names.”

“I’ve been training long enough now and it’s been a long winter. I’m desperate to get a number on my back and make it count for something. Commercially, this race is covered pretty well being the first race of the season so for anyone who has got an eye on getting the publicity they deserve for their sponsors, they should be here.”


With the key partner for the team yet to be announced, the team raced in plain Le Col clothing in the Perfs pedal supplied by Yanto.

The Learning Curve for a New Team
Some teams take longer than others to gel as a team so when asked what he, the team captain, learns on a training camp, Yanto replied, “hopefully you learn you have picked good riders to begin with because if you didn’t, you know quite quickly!”

“The second thing you learn is everyone is always different; no team is the same, no individual is the same, and even no individual is the same year on year. So some of the guys I have raced with in past years have grown and progressed and are in a different place to where they were before. So that is nice as it’s usually better!”

“The mixture is the bit I focus on as well as each individual’s capabilities. For me personally as team captain, the job is about allocating the resources of the team and I need to know what work load I can give to each rider when it comes to a role in a race. So the training camps are that opportunity for the first time to see one how motivated they are, and two where their attitude is, and three physically what they have under the bonnet which is key relative to each other.”

“For example, if you set up a lead out and you have the wrong order, the second guy is going to drop the third guy and that screws everything up so making sure we get that right is important”.


Winning last year in the Evesham Road Race for Raleigh-GAC

Winner of the Star Trophy in 2014 was asked is that a goal this year for him? Yanto replied “That’s a good question! I’d like to say no but I know when I get to the races, I am going to be on auto pilot and going to be supremely competitive and I want to be winning”.

“There is though a lot of strength in the team and I’m not going to take over; I’m not that dominant a leader. I am team captain strategically doing what is best for the team. So, I can take myself out of the way of that decision making process if that needs to happen.”

“So yes, I’d love to be up there. I really took it seriously winning the series last year and it was great for me personally, and I feel very proud of that, to have my name on the trophy which has some really great names on it. But I’ll see how it goes and if required, I’ll be there for some else who may be going for it.”


Steve Benton talks to Chris Opie who was second to Yanto at the Perfs and is expected to be one of the riders battling for the wins in the sprint finishes.

Asked whether riders need to be holding back at this time of the season with the major races all packed into an intense race programme from April to September, Yanto replied that the man standing next to us as we spoke, Steve Benton is the key for them.

“Judging our efforts and picking our objectives along with the form cycles is what Steve will help us do. No-one is going to be in top form from March to September but we all have our objectives and will be approaching them, rest periods included, so we don’t over do it”.

Finally, what about their rivals in 2015. The British ‘circus’ will have six UCI teams, one more than 2014, and even the non-UCI teams are expected to have stronger line ups. “I have a lot of respect for the teams we will be racing this year” says Yanto.


Yanto (centre) very thorough in preparing well for a race knows how to enjoy his racing as well.

“I think they are stronger and I think there is a better, more competitive group of teams now than almost ever before which is great and exciting which will make the wins more satisfying because we’re going to have to beat some real quality bike riders who I personally respect”.

And that is perhaps the most significant thing about what Yanto has said – respect – because with teams so closely matched, on paper, not giving a rider or team the respect they deserve could be very costly and not a mistake a professional like Yanto would be expected to make.

For sure, he’ll be one hell of a captain for the team on the road and VeloUK looks forward to seeing him, and his team race the coming events in March and beyond.

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