Feature Interview: Ian Watson (Brother UK LDN)

Part 3 of a chat with Ian Watson, founder of the Brother UK-LDN teams for men and women. In this final part we talk about the men’s squad for 2021

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Feature Interview: Ian Watson (Brother UK LDN)

Part 1The Brother UK-LDN Women’s Team
Part 2Rider reactions from the Brother UK-LDN Women’s Team

Part 3 of a chat with Ian Watson, founder of the Brother UK-LDN teams for men and women. In this part we talk about the men’s squad for 2021

Like the Women’s team, Ian has high hopes for the men’s part of the Brother UK-LDN team. “I want riders to progress” he explains, adding, “in the first year, I took mainly second cats who looked like they were on the pathway to going to first cat but it didn’t quite work out for whatever reason so for 2019, I strengthened it with some first cats.”

Ian’s aim with the men’s team in 2021 is to have his riders competing in national B races as well as some national A events. “The idea is to get them to be competitive as a team” he explained, adding, “winning races and riding as a team will give them confidence to carry them forward.”

Martin Smith racing at Bovingdon (Hemel Hempstead) on a solo mission to winning his race

The team will be made up of twelve riders which Ian says is a manageable sized team. “I could have filled the men’s team two times over but I kept it manageable for me. I am very careful who I take on as I have had some good riders on the radar who were not good team riders so the riders I have chosen have the right attitude and bond well together as a unit.”

“By keeping the team the right size, you keep the camaraderie of it as well so they can rely on each other and the lads train together too which is a bonus”.

The riders in the team are buzzed about being in this unit together says Ian and they are looking forward to racing together. “They have been riding for satellite teams or clubs and basically been lone wolves in races and been a bit frustrated. “As individuals, they have had good enough results to get their first cat licence but never had that proper team experience and they are excited for it.”

“In 2020, we had a training camp at the start of the year and seeing the lads ride in that training camp blew me away as they rode so well together. They were so fast and the bonding was amazing. There is massive excitement in the team and they are looking forward to racing and being competitive”.

Asked what he gets out of managing a team of riders, Ian replies “I never set out to be one but the progression through the club is something that found me. It’s been tough at times and at the start you don’t take into account the different personalities of people and all that kind of thing. So there have been tough times when you question ‘what am doing this for’ but then at the end of the day, it fills your heart when they have done well and you know you have had a hand in that.”

“In 2019, I learnt so much as a manager and there were times when I thought I wasn’t cut out for it, but then I kept going. I was never going to give up and I came out much wiser and stronger for it. After 2020, I am even more knowledgeable and last year made me mentally stronger, made me realise I love it doing it and that I’ll be better with it in 2021”.

“One thing I have had to learn the hard way is the structure that is needed in managing a team. For example, if you take a race day where you go to the other side of the country, it’s the structure around that you have to learn. Sitting in the car with a race radio can be fun but stressful at times but before that you have to be regimented about when the riders get up, when they eat, when they get on the turbos and off them and there’s this massive structure around the whole day that if you don’t stick to, the day will go west on you.”

“Those are the things that people don’t see. It’s full on from when you leave the house on a Saturday morning to when you get home at midnight on Sunday. My job is to take all the thinking and stress away from the riders so they all have to think out about is getting on the bikes and riding a race and having a clear head.”

…. continued after the advert.

What the riders say about their team

One of the riders, Tom Elwood says about being part of the team, “I’ve been with Brother UK-LDN since it started and coached by Watto since I started racing in 2016. So it means a lot to be a part of the team and to see it continue to grow. I’ve really loved being a part of the journey so far. Also, having a core group of riders all based in London and hungry to go racing is super motivating and a lot of fun to be a part of.”

Tom says the goals are to get back to enjoying racing and maybe nab a win at Hog Hill (NE London) and hopefully hang onto his 1st cat licence. On what he missed in 2020, he says “the race scene and all the people you only see at races as well the competition, pushing my own limits, and of course Hog Hill on a Thursday”. For now, with winter to contend with as well as lockdown, Tom will prepare for the coming season on both the road and turbo as well as out on the trails too.

Jon Gales
It’s great being in a really driven group with like-minded racers in London. In a time where race formats and events are constantly adjusting, we’ve still managed to train and compete together, on the track, crits and road omniums.

Tom Wiley
I’m looking forward to going to the big races and to Belgium with everyone. The atmosphere at a race is always good. It’s not quantifiable but knowing everyone is routing for you is a great feeling and it’s what team racing is all about.

James O Connell
New to the team in 2020 as a regular rider of Regents Park, I was stoked to join the boys in blue who’d fly around in the early hours of the morning before the city awakens. They even had their own coach cheering them on…not to mention a photographer snapping up all the action!

We’re a team that share a passion for top-level cycling but need to balance this alongside work/studies. Team camp proved to be the highlight for many of us. Alongside epic rides in the Spanish sunshine, having the opportunity to bond socially off-the-bike rather than rush to work post-Regents Park-laps saw many riders’ relationships blossom.

I felt this combo of hard training and knowing each other well was the secret behind landing a few podiums early 2020.

I was quick to accept 2020 would be different and adapted my goals accordingly. However, having been teased by Team Brother UK-LDN’s domination in the early races, I sorely missed all the group rides, team meets and racing that ‘could’ve happened.’ Yet, I am grateful to have remained healthy, happy and am content knowing I made the most of the pre-covid opportunities.

This winter I have been bulking on base miles to lay the performance foundations for 2021. Team sponsors Soigneur bike fit and Rapha have been crucial to dialling in my TT setup alongside further support from Coach Watto (Ian Watson). For me, 2021 will be about time trialling as I feel these events have the highest chance of going ahead in the current pandemic. Finding my way onto the podium at BUCS or the National Champs is the goal for me.

Martin Smith
Having joined Brother UK-LDN at beginning of last season from a club where I was pretty much the only member racing, I am still looking forward to racing properly as part of a team. Unfortunately I missed the March races pre lockdown 1 with a mystery chest virus, but did at least get a couple of opportunities in August to race with my new teammates at Bovingdon Bomber crits and Herne Hill which was great and not unsuccessful!

So excited to see what the team can do together as soon as possible. I have had a pretty good winter training so far. I don’t mind long solo rides and Zwift with the telly on which helps! I’m feeling well set for racing as soon as possible. Have entered the Hainault Hilly 50km TT beginning of March so fingers crossed for that. In the meantime, I’m considering at least a Zwift ‘Everesting’ session in the coming weeks in leu of a winter training camp!

I am of course very grateful for the continuing support of our sponsors witting the current economy, Brother UK, Soigneur, Laka, Rapha, OTE. I’ve not had an easy year as a recently set up freelance residential designer (www.roomsmith.design), so all/any support I recieve will facilitate me being able to race more regularly. On the plus side I’ve had plenty of time to train!

VeloUK interviewed Martin at Bovingdon

Jamie Winbourne
I’m delighted that Watto has put his faith in me to race under the Brother UK-LDN banner for a second season. It’s a really special atmosphere – despite being laid back and super friendly, everyone has a real hunger to succeed, not only individually but also as a team. This was perhaps the aspect of racing that I missed most in 2020 – working hard with a group of mates in order to achieve a common goal.

In 2021, I cannot wait to make up for this by attaining some great results in National B road races, with an eye on the odd National A to supplement this. I’m preparing for this by riding almost exclusively on the road, as I’m not a fan of the turbo and would prefer to ride in all conditions. I love the social aspect of riding therefore I try to limit solo rides, preferring to head out before the group if I need to get any efforts done.

Micheal Krucov
The supportive and easy-going environment naturally brings about some real healthy competition, as we’re all in the same boat with full-time work or study. My first season with the team has been a big step in the right direction, having ‘got round’ nationals and made the podium in a Nat B road race. We really strengthened both the core of our riders and our sponsors for 2020, so it’s a shame we couldn’t see this reflected on the road. That’s what 2021 is for!”

2021 Mens Team
Tom Elwood
Tom Whiley
MicheL Krucov
Ben Thompson
Jamie Winborne
James O’Connel
Martin Smith
Jon Gales
Jody Paxman
James Street
Tim Allen
Jonas Roose

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