Feature: Ribble Weldtite 2021

A look at the Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling team for 2021 which has seen four star names come in to strengthen the squad along with a new sporting director in former World Champion, Colin Sturgess who will be looking to guide the team to success during a busy (hopefully) season next year in Britain and on the continent

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Feature: Ribble Weldtite 2021

A look at the Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling team for 2021 which has seen four star names come in to strengthen the squad along with a new sporting director in former World Champion, Colin Sturgess who will be looking to guide the team to success during a busy (hopefully) season next year in Britain and on the continent.

Talking to the team, they explained that when putting the team together for next season, the aim was to keep the core of the team to keep it progressing year-on-year. The team needed to replace a few riders like John Archibald moved up to a Pro-Conti team and a few of the younger riders are heading abroad for 2021.

With the new signings made to replace the riders who left, the 2021 line-up has changed significantly from what they expected earlier in the year. Not so much in the number of riders but in the way the team has been strengthened. “In August, if you had asked what personnel we will change, I’d have said very little and that we’d only add one or two riders, but it turns out we have added four to the core of twelve” explained a spokesman for the team.

The team were very happy with the core of the team from the 2020 team line-up and explained how some of the guys are progressing nicely. One of them for example, Zeb Kyffin, was King of the Hills and most aggressive rider in the Klondike Grand Prix in 2019, as well as 6th in the Ryedale GP and is progressing well in time trials too say the team. Scotland’s Mark Stewart too is another rider from the core of the team and one they expect will improve in 2021 after a winter spent in a New Zealand summer.

“We now have a good mix of talents, especially since we signed James (Shaw) so we hope we now have multiple options to play in every race we will face” say the team.

The Ribble Weldtite team has quite a diverse line up as well with some riders in the team for different reasons like Si Wilson has different motives to those of Charles Page. “What we had to do is make sure when we put together an overall offer for each of the riders, whether that be equipment, the race programme, training camps or nutrition, it had to fit everybody and that was the challenge” say the team.

For half the team, the race programme of the team (UCI races for example) is a really important factor for them and the team’s management know they will be going to races that will test them and in some, they may even be out of their depth but they want to grasp the opportunity to be involved in such races whether it’s racing to do well in an intermediate competition in a stage race, or stage wins even.

“Every race we do” say the team, “we need to have a strategic purpose as to why we are there. We are not doing races to make up the numbers or because we have an entry”.

The team, pandemic permitting, will have a bigger UCI programme in 2021 but add that they are very much a British team in terms of their partners and the backing they have. “The domestic scene remains a priority to us, but what we did want was a more complete programme for 2021”.

“In other years, we have taken the invitations from races and just slotted them in, whereas this year it’s more about getting into the races that fit into the way the race programme is structured over the whole season both from a domestic and foreign angle”.

“Like the Holland Cup, we’re putting a lot of emphasis on that because we understand that if the young riders are able to perform in that, it’s a show case for them which is a priority”.

Simon Wilson racing the Eddie Soens before a year of Time Trials and a lot of success for his team: Simon and the team will be on the Ribble Endurance SL-R bike in 2021

What the team admit is they don’t expect to be a racing an event in Britain one day and then heading overnight to a race on the continent. Instead, the plan is to go to the continent for a block of racing over a week or two and doing multiple events during that period that fit into their overall programme of racing. The team admits they may even base a team over on the continent for a month with their new DS Colin Sturgess who will guide them through a block of UCI events.

“From the feedback we have had from the riders and the staff, that seems to be a better approach” say the team “rather than going to races ad hoc here and there”.

When asked if the team is happy with the mix they have created with some new and very strong signings, the response was an obvious yes. The team has a great track record in time trials and has some big engines in the team but with their new signings, both from 2020 (such as Charles Page) and 2021 with the likes of big winners in James Shaw, Matt Gibson and Freddie Scheske, the way they approach races will change and the team will look to make the most of their new signing’s strengths.

A rider with great results in time trials and road races, Dan Bigham will be one of the riders capable of winning or helping teammates win races in 2021 

Time trialling though will of course remain a focus within the overall strategy. Whilst they lost a great engine in John Archibald, the team have retained star rider Dan Bigham (10 champion 2020) and Simon Wilson to name but two in the team who can TT well. They do however want to help individual riders with their own personal goals. Freddie Scheske is one who would like to improve his time trialling.

“Freddie’s numbers are very good” say the team, adding, “and he probably hasn’t had the level of expertise in time trials that the Ribble Weldtite team are able to provide so we expect he’ll step up in that discipline and Matt (Gibson) as well. He was on the GB Academy and is very fast with his sprinting but the team think there may be opportunities in the shorter time trials for Matt after we get his equipment dialled along with his position”.

Their approach to races will now change from previous years with the addition of Colin Sturgess as their sporting director and the team is fully confident they have the strength within the team to support their ambitions.

“We don’t have as many ‘leaders’ as some teams but when you start to dig down into the quality of the riders we have for races, it is clear many have the potential to win races in 2021.”

Colin Sturgess will be in charge of the riders at Ribble Weldtite in 2021

The team says they do expect to go into more events with a strategic plan based around key riders and key objectives in that race as opposed to letting the riders work it out on the road. “We’ll definitely have more of a strategy and Colin will heavily influence that” the team explains.

“Colin will be pivotal to the team. We saw what he was able to deliver for a team when he was at Madison Genesis and the win by Connor Swift in the National Road Race Championship. The way he changed that team and the dynamic there was eye opening and we think his way of working with the riders is so under rated. The riders were pleased to see Colin come on board the team explained. “After getting the necessary background info on the riders from the team management, Colin has now had long one-to-one meetings with riders to work out what their objectives are and how he can support them in the team and its race programme.”

Matt Cronshaw is still working with the team as well. “He is very much the same type of DS where he builds strong relationships with the riders” explains the team. “So with those two (Colin and Matt), that should make a major impact on the way the team races” says the team.

“As an organisation, we have everything in place such as the sponsorship and the way we conduct ourselves in the public domain, but what we have been missing for around the last 18 months is someone like Colin who can really take hold of the day-to-day; the rider management and race programme and the way we deliver that on the road”.

Until now, former top rider domestically, Matt Cronshaw has been the team’s sporting director but he now has a blossoming business of his own and the team were aware he wasn’t going to be able to commit to the full time requirements that running a team like Ribble Weldtite needs. The team is aiming to do races like the Tour of Britain and other big races in Europe so for 2021, the team expect to be running a split programme of races on the continent and here in Britain. Colin will manage the team on the continent and Matt the team in Britain.

Colin was DS at Madison Genesis and before that the Metaltek Kuota team so has a lot of experience in domestic racing and racing abroad both as a DS and as a rider

With the pandemic putting a stop to road racing in Britain in 2020, they don’t expect there will be any racing early on in 2021 in Britain which makes the programme in Europe even more important should racing there recommence early on in the year.

What the team are hoping is that one key factor that has influenced domestic racing over quite a few years now, Tour of Britain qualification, will not be in place in 2021 and the team can follow their overall strategy for their racing without having to worry about qualifying for their National Tour. It is said by some there will be no qualification for the Tour of Britain in 2021 but that is yet to be confirmed by the events organisers publicly.

Finally, I asked the team about Elite teams and how important they are to the racing scene. “They have a big role to play” says the team spokesman. “They have that ‘under the radar card’ even if there is a lot of control and numbers from the UCI teams. I think the Elite teams have opportunities to showcase themselves. At races like Ryedale or Lancaster for instance, it doesn’t matter how strong your team is on paper, the course will dictate who the strong riders are.”

With no racing since 2019, no-one really knows how strong the Elite teams will be in 2021 but one thing is for sure says the Ribble Weldtite spokesman “nobody in a UCI team will be righting off riders from an Elite team as they can have a big impact on the races in the same as we could, Swift or Canyon”.

Good luck to the Ribble Weldtite team in 2021. Here is the team line up

Freddie Scheske
Matt Gibson
James Shaw
Dan Bigham
Will Brown
Richard Jones
Zeb Kyffin
Olly Moors
Charles Page
Jacob Tipper
Joe Wilson
Simon Wilson
Cameron Jeffers
Mark Stewart
Jack Rees (triathlon too)
Gruff Lewis (triathlon too)

Sporting Directors
Colin Sturgess
Matt Cronshaw


Matt Gibson signs for Ribble Weldtite

 Freddie Scheske Signs for Ribble Weldtite

James Shaw Signs for Ribble Weldtite

Cameron Jeffers joins Ribble Weldtite

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