Feature Interview: Simon Cope (Team Wiggins)

DS and manager of Team Wiggins, former pro, Simon Cope tells us about the 2018 squad and their expected racing programme

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Feature Interview: Simon Cope (Team Wiggins)

Whilst the team name is Wiggins, it is former pros Simon Cope and Chris Lillywhite that will be in charge of the 18 riders that go to make up Team Wiggins for 2018.

16 of the 18 riders in the Wiggins team for 2018 and Sir in the middle of the pack

Both Simon and Chris had successful racing careers, with Simon winning the Circuit Race Championship in 1997. Cope, who rode as professional from 1983 to 1999 on both track and road, worked for Team GB as well as trade teams and has been with Team Wiggins from the start.

For people like Simon, managing and being a DS of a conti team is a tough gig, tougher than at WorldTour level where more is done for the riders by other people; things such as the logistics for example. “We have to book the hotels, do the race programme and there are a lot less staff at this level, but I enjoy working in a development team, its good fun” Simon explained.
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The team is made up of eighteen under 23 riders and not all British as the team is not part of the GB set up which many think it is. So as well as the majority of the team being British, there are also New Zealanders, Irish and a French rider in the squad. The riders in the team are:

Gabriel Cullaigh, GB
Reece Wood, GB
Joey Walker, GB
Nathan Draper, GB
Oliver Robinson, GB
Jacques Sauvagnargues, GB
Dylan Robson, GB
Etienne Georgi, GB
Tom Pidcock, GB
Rob Scott, GB
Jesse Yates, GB
Mark Donovan, GB
Mark Downey, IRL
Matthew Teggart, IRL
Michael O’Loughlin, IRL
Corentin Navarro, FRA
James Fouche, NZL
Campbell Stewart, NZL

Tom Pidcock.

One of the ‘name’ riders in the team is Tom Pidcock, who was a double junior world champion in Cyclo-Cross and Road Time Trial. On the subject of Tom riding for the team and not a World Tour squad, Simon explains “he’s stepping out of Junior racing (which Tom was in 2017) to Under 23 racing which he has been doing this winter for races under an hour but the difference between a WorldTour bike race on the road and a Junior one is something like 60 or 70k and that is a hell of a lot of kilometres and also there’s the demands on him.”

“Personally, I think some lads turn pro for WorldTour teams too early. I think you need to get some races under your belt, some wins under your belt and learn your trade. I don’t think Tom going straight to a WorldTour team would be a good idea.”

Like Simon was in 1997, Tom is also the current British Circuit Race champion. Will we see him in those stripes I asked? “I haven’t really spoken to Tom yet as we want to get the cross season done first but I think his programme will be a mixture of the crits which I think he enjoys and a few UCI races.”

“The Tour of Yorkshire is the big one should ASO select the team and we’d have to select him just because of who he is and where he is from. The lad has a lot of talent but the one thing we see is a lot of people pulling at him and he needs to take it one step at a time and we need to shelter him a bit from those demands.” … continued after advert


Asked what the race programme is likely to be for the team, Simon replied “2018 will see the team racing in Britain in events like Premier Calendars, hopefully Tour of Yorkshire and Tour of Britain and we will also be looking to do the Tour Series.”

Simon added they will also be looking to get a start in most of the Under 23 events in Europe as well as ‘UCI .2 events as well as UCI .1 events (ie, 1.1 and 2.1 races). “The issue is, at the moment, there isn’t enough racing for Conti level teams” says Simon.

I added that with the team’s goal of trying to help the young riders move on into pro teams in Europe (Pro Conti and WorldTour) that in all likelihood they need that European racing to be seen by the scouts for the major teams.
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“Correct” agrees Simon. “Obviously we’re not going to see a Quickstep, Trek Segfredo or whatever scout at a Premier Calendar event. Unfortunately, that is the reality of it. But you go to these Under 23 races like Liege Bastogne Liege, Gent Wevelgem, Baby Giros; you see all the these scouts there and I think the reason Davies (Scott) and Knox (James) moved onto WorldTour teams is by performing in those races”.

With racing in Britain in order to qualify for the Tour of Britain also required, a double programme does put a lot of pressure on teams like Wiggins where there isn’t a big influx of cash around at the moment for them or the other squads as well.

“It does” says Simon. “It’s not cheap going to Europe. Any team manager who runs a UCI team and goes to Europe realises how expensive it is but also the cost of the sport has gone through the roof anyway and even in Britain, it is not cheap which is why teams need to find more sponsors.”

The first racing for the team will be in a few weeks when part of the team will ride the well known early season British ‘classic’, the Jock Wadley and another part of the team will race in a one day UCI event in Portugal before a couple of days rest and then a stage race.

Racing a stage race highlights something the British programme doesn’t offer the riders outside of the Tour of Reservoir two day. Something that is a lot different to when Simon raced at the highest level in Britain. “We had more multi day events back then for sure. We had Tour of Lancs, the Girvan, Bill Cox Memorial and other multi day events”.

“ Those days of racing are definitely important for the riders. Even a stage race in Britain with domestic teams and racing day after day, the accumulation of fatigue gives the first year seniors a grounding to what it’s all about really. “

Unfortunately, the cost of putting on a one day race in Britain is costly enough and probably why there are no national A multi stage events which is why Team Wiggins will be finding them in Europe. With the team presentation done, Simon is now looking forward to getting in the team car and going to a bike race. Amen to that!



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