Q&A with Team KTM’s Paul Lamb

In depth Q&A with Team KTM’s Paul Lamb who discusses the big demands of a Team Manager during off-season and announces the Team KTM squad for 2018.

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Q&A with Team KTM’s Paul Lamb

In depth Q&A with Team KTM’s Paul Lamb who discusses the big demands of a Team Manager during off-season and announces the Team KTM squad for 2018.

Question: Paul, it was good to see KTM back in the pro peloton in 2017, what are the plans for the team moving forward into 2018?
Paul Lamb: 2017 was KTM’s first year back in the elite-pro peloton since its year at UCI Continental level in 2014. This time around, we are looking to build a long-term collaboration with KTM and to put the partnerships and infrastructure in place to ensure the sustainability of the team. We have an ambitious four-year development plan in place and we want to make sure we are around to carry it out. We see the development of effective working partnerships with our sponsors as crucial to the long term success of the team.

For the 2018 season, we had planned to run as a BC elite national team, but with the team instability during the off-season and a lack of information or apparent interest coming from British Cycling, we may have to re evaluate this plan. It is our intention though, to use this season as a stepping stone to UCI Conti level which, all going well, we intend to do.
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Q: How has the off season team preparations for 2018 gone for you?
PL: Like most teams, we have been extremely busy since the season ended, but so far so good. Last season we entered the race scene quite late and had a relatively small squad. This left us fairly stretched, especially when we had a couple of serious injuries midway through the year.

For 2018, we have assembled a bigger squad with a mixture of experience and younger riders. We have guys with top results at Prem level and UCI stage races and first year U23’s with impressive junior national experience. Overall, I am confident we’ll perform well individually and as a team in major races throughout the season.

Sponsorship wise, we are hugely grateful to KTM Bike Industries UK for their continued support of the team with bikes and their excellent Italian branded Ursus wheels. We certainly hope to repay them with a good year both on and off the bike. We have a range of top product partners who we have also stayed with for 2018 including Giro, Absolute Black, Kitbrix, Pyramid Display materials, Bkool, Supacaz, and OTE nutrition. In addition we have partnered with Champion Systems for race and training kit.We are also in the process of developing some new exciting links with other partners who we hope will come on board during the year and for 2019.
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Q: What do you make of the big changes to teams and personnel this winter?
PL: As far as riders have been concerned, at times it’s felt a bit like transfer deadline day in football. In all seriousness, it’s not been great for many concerned, especially for riders, who are the most valuable asset in this sport. Several long-standing and really successful teams sadly folded in December and other riders were released from their teams, some at UCI Conti level. This left lots of good riders with a mad scramble to find new teams.

It’s not a good scenario for riders and something has to change if we are to avoid losing top athletes from the sport who may feel that they have had enough of the insecurity. No full-time riders at this level should be ‘working’ for nothing and this is something that has to change at some point. As other teams have, we have stepped in and offered rides to some very talented riders who may otherwise have been lost to the sport.

All this change will, however make for a very interesting 2018 season with several new teams and some high profile team managers. The downside is that it reflects the precarious financial model of the sport. Outside of the well funded top two or three teams, most others, including ourselves, have to build leaner models to guarantee their sustainability. Teams are having to be far more creative in what they can offer sponsors outside of a financial return.

It’s not easy, and as a sport, we will have to do far more to keep sponsors interested and on board in the future. To me this also includes British Cycling itself, which needs to appreciate just how much money most teams have to generate each year just to make this sporting spectacle possible. The money to support the sport at the highest level, not only comes from sponsors but from a plethora of generous volunteers and benefactors who are donating out of their own pocket for no financial return. The sport has to adapt to keep it competitive and to avoid a situation where a couple of highly funded teams dominate every year whilst others are continually fighting for their existence.

On a brighter note, it is great to see some true British legends of the sport back in the pro race scene next year such as Malcolm Elliot (who I was privileged to race against back in the day) and Russ Downing, both of whom have ridden at the highest level. They have clearly hit the ground running and already looking at a Tour de Yorkshire entry, with Malcolm having come ‘full-circle’ from the ANC-Halfords days of the late 80’s (with riders like Elliot, Griffiths, Sutton, Adrian Timmis, Graham Jones and Paul Watson in the Tour de France).

Several other UCI Conti riders have also become team managers such as Steve Lampier and Matt Cronshaw and collectively their vast experience can only help raise the standard of racing and the profile of the sport in the UK.

Q: Rumour has it you were going to be riding on aero bikes equipped with disc brakes in Prems in 2018?
PL: Ha! That was the plan. KTM have just released their new aero disc road bike, the Lisse, which we were going to ride exclusively in 2018. BC’s decision to finally allow the use of disc brakes in domestic road racing was a favourable one. However, as BC was one of the last federations to allow their domestic use, the decision came too late in reality. The biggest factor however, is the UCI’s continued failure to make a definitive decision and instead to continue to trial road discs during the 2018 season.

The current ruling, which people may still not be aware of, is that whilst road discs are now allowed domestically (in most countries), they are not allowed in UCI races unless you are a UCI Conti team or above. To us, this is quite a discriminatory ruling and means that for 2018 we couldn’t use them in any UCI 1.2 one-day race (e.g. Rutland or Beaumont) or any 2.2 stage race, here or abroad. No team can afford to run a combination of disc and rim bikes, so we have reluctantly had to switch back to bikes with rim brakes for the time being. Commercially this is not good for us or the sport.

Q: Can you tell us the riders you have signed for 2018?
PL: We have though assembled a really strong, versatile squad for 2018. It is a fairly large squad and we are expecting a healthy competition for places in key targeted events. We have retained talented riders from last season and added a mix of youth and experience which we are hoping will blend really well, including top performers at Prem level, an international U23 Road and TT champion and riders who podiumed in UCI overseas stage races in 2017. Our final squad for 2081 is:

Retained riders:
Peter Barusevicus
Fraser Rounds
Julian Varley U23
Andrew Disley
Alex Harvey U23
Adam Robinson

New riders:
Kieran Brady
Will Fox
Callum Ferguson
Dave Shackleton
Andy Turner
Gavin Taylor U23
Oliver Peckover U23
Joe Hill U23 1st year U23
David Kovács U23 (Hungarian national champion at junior and under 23 level in both road and TT)
Jordan Reed 1st year U23



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