Feature interview – NFTO’s John Wood


Talking to NFTO team owner John Wood about the Jock Wadley and his star signings for the 2015 season

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Feature interview – NFTO’s John Wood

Passionate about the sport of cycling more than probably any team owner anywhere, John Wood and his team at NFTO have assembled a strong team for 2015 with yet another coup for the British scene, the signing of Aussie World Tour rider Steele Von Hoff.

Over recent years, John has sponsored races like the classic Junior Tour of Wales and others as well as teams such as NFTO (both pro and club team) as well as Cycle Division’s RST women’s and junior mens teams in 2014 (Junior men again in 2015).


Like anyone in this sport, John enjoys a good ride out on the bike in the lanes around his home in Herefordshire

The sport has benefited from his passion for cycling in many ways but it’s the sport of pro cycling in Britain where he has had the most public of impacts. Bringing new stars to the scene that can win the biggest bike races in the country can only add spice to the excitement of a road racing scene that gets better each season.

This weekend, John and his team travel to the Jock Wadley Memorial in Essex, a long long way from their base in Hereford.

It’s a race that the team have had success in and when asked what the Jock Wadley means to a UCI team like NFTO, John replies “We surprisingly won the Wadley back in 2013 with Hugh Wilson who was in a break with two former UK Youth riders and he took them in the sprint which shows anything can happen in this race”.

“Last year, Adam Blythe was in the break with Rob Partridge and two others and while everyone watched Adam, Rob stole away off the front with Adam sat waiting before taking second in the sprint”.

“It’s a great warm up race for the boys ready for the season to start but more importantly gets the whole team both on and off the bike back in the swing of race weekends”.


Hugh Wilson winning the Jock Wadley for the club team that John started well before the pro team was started.

At Severn Bridge Road Race last weekend, NFTO debuted young Eddie Dunbar, a very talented young rider from Ireland who has earned the respect of some of Britain’s top professionals already. The event though saw just three of their riders race due to restrictions placed on teams by the organisers.

At the Jock Wadley though, six of the team will get a race led by a rider so many fans were following the fortunes of early on in the year; Steele Von Hoff.

The Aussie who has podiumed twice on Tour of Britain stages, and is the only rider to have won the Australian Circuit Race title two years in a row, famously also won a stage in the Tour Down Under this year. The NFTO team for the Wadley and beyond though has many other strong and proven performers including Dunbar so I asked John is the team more nervous than excited?

“Not really” he replied. “The lads are used to racing so to them, they’ll just chat on the start line then get on with it. We did not win a race last year until the first round of the Tour Series in Stoke. I feel that Madison-Genesis have one of the strongest teams and will certainly be the ones we will watch however all the teams have good strength in depth”.

“Never discount John Herety’s team JLT-Condor either. They can do fantastic things as we saw in Ryedale (1-2 after dominating the front of the race). Although some teams have been out chasing results in lower ranked races to get some publicity, the first big race for everyone will always be the Chorley Grand Prix (first Prem of 2015) on April 4”.

Irish eyes smiling on NFTO
Young Eddie Dunbar from Cork in Ireland made his rivals sit up and take notice at the Severn Bridge RR. I put it to John that must make him feel proud to have spotted and signed such a talented youngster. “Eddie is certainly going to be a talent” John replied.


“He has a very good grasp of cycling. What was funny at the weekend is he wanted to use the race at the Severn Bridge as training after a hard week. After the second lap, he was never further back than second (in two breaks with one other rider) ‘til the last lap and having to deal with riders not giving him a turn. It didn’t bother him though as there are bigger races to come and he was very happy with the result and looks forward to the season”.

Preparing for the 2015 season has taken place on home roads with their training camps in Hereford supporting local businesses who follow the team. That local support can come in many forms including joining the NFTO cycling club.

“We have a great club that anyone can join whatever age or talent and be part of the NFTO story. It’s about making the sport more accessible to everyone and showing how we should all work together”.

John is well known as some one, even as a vet, who knows no boundaries when it comes to pushing his own limits on a bike. He races hard and trains harder, and was the first person to take Steele Von Hoff out on local riders to show him about. That passion has a positive impact on the riders.

Asked what it is about riding and racing bikes he find’s so addictive, John replies “I think some people come into cycling to make money and turn it into a business but that’s not what I’m about. I think the most important part of being a cyclist is the social aspect which comes from riding with people”.

“What I have tried to do is get the Pro’s involved locally with club rides and 10’s which has meant local TT’s last year which had 100 riders on the start sheet just because Sam Harrison or Adam Blythe was there. I didn’t start the team to ride with Pro’s, I started a club (NFTO cycle club) to help local riders to go up the ladder and some of them are riding with the pro team now”.


Adam Blythe.

When I first arrived at the start of the second NFTO training camp, Steele and John had just got back from a very cold and wet ride and were then chatting for the next hour or more whilst they thawed out. Asked how much is he looking forward to seeing Steele race in Britain in his own teams colours, John replied “I learnt my lesson last year with Adam Blythe that nothing is guaranteed at any race and the same goes for Steele”.

“I agree that he may have a target on his back much the same as Sir Brad will have when he races. However, this year, other teams should not measure success on whether they beat us in a single day race or Tour Series round, but if they can then go on to win one of the big UCI races and stand on top of the podium in London”.

“We did that last year so this year we have different goals and the team know that. We have some pretty big announcements to make soon which will certainly change how we approach this season and the future of the team”. Finally, Madison Genesis boss Roger Hammond paid tribute to all the strong teams in Britain at the launch of his team on Thursday and singled out Steele as a highlight signing of the teams in Britain. So is John pleased with the squad he has assembled for 2015?

“Last year I learned so much from Roger along with the other team managers”.

“Bringing new riders into the mix is important as you don’t know what might happen so I am very pleased with the team and how everyone has gelled very quickly. There is certainly a different feel to how other managers manage their teams to how we manage ours and that can only make the sport more exciting for the riders, managers and fans”.

“We got on with the job and tried to make the races last season not only competitive but interesting for the spectators all over the country. Malcolm, Cherie and John all helped through the year and I hope we can do the same and raise the profile of the sport together which can only be good for everyone.”


“For 2015, I have a great team around me this year in Dave Povall (manager/DS) and Courtney Rowe (coach) who have already been worth there weight in gold helping shape the team. Courtney has an exceptional way of coaching the riders and with a life time of knowledge helping to produce world / Olympic champions”.

“He is so much more than just a coach sending individually customised training programmes to the riders. He has been crucial to the input of who rides in which races and helps take all the guess work that I had last year out of the equation”.

“Dave and the staff in the team have also come together great over the winter getting all the kit pimped and ready and a huge thank you to all our sponsors who this year have really got behind the team in order to give the guys the best kit we can”.

Thanks to John at NFTO for the chat and good luck to the team in 2015


Dave Povall talks to his team ahead of some drills during a recent training camp.


John with Courtney Rowe mapping out a team ride at the team house.

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