Having made a successful transition from saddle to team car, Capital-based ONE Pro Team sporting director James McCallum has pointed to the success of his Team at this week’s Aviva Tour of Britain as evidence that the fledgling squad is ready to progress to a higher level of competition next season.
McCallum called time on his competitive career after last summer’s Commonwealth Games to move into team management and coaching. After cutting his teeth with a short stint at the Neon Velo squad, he moved to ONE Pro, an ambitious outfit with aspirations to compete in grand tour events. And, he has been impressed by the way his new colleagues have gone about the task in their first major event.
“It’s a really cool week. It’s been quite a good debut for the team at the Tour of Britain. They’ve come straight in and been very aggressive,” he said. “We are happy with where we are at. We are looking to move up next year and we are setting our stall out.”
And explaining the approach of the team, he added: “We just treat it as eight one-day races. As long as the jersey gets air time. It’s an exercise in brand awareness. We know we are not going to win the race overall, so it’s all about us getting faces on the TV and getting the exposure and showing people we are here to race, not just sit and ride round.”
The 36-year-old was on familiar territory yesterday when stage four of the eight-day event started in Holyrood Park then passed through East Lothian before finishing at Blyth in Northumberland, a route of 217.4 kilometres, making it the longest of the race.
Thousands of spectators lined the route as the group passed through the city centre before the race started in earnest at Edinburgh College on Milton Road.
With smaller teams desperate to gain exposure to media and the wider public, the pace was furious from the start.
A six-man group including McCallum’s former team mate Rob Partridge (NFTO)) broke away before the first sprint of the day at Gifford. That sextet built a lead that peaked at more than four minutes then, as the gap dwindled with 40 kilometres to race, Danilo Wyss (BMC) and the Italians Alan Marangoni (Cannondale-Garmin) and Matteo Trentin (Etixx-Quick Step) dropped their fellow escapees.
However, they were reeled in with 17 kilometres to race, setting up a sprint finish. And it was Colombian youngster Fernando Gaviria, a team-mate of Trentin and Mark Cavendish, who had most in hand, pipping Germany’s Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) after five hours in the saddle.
The Spaniard Jan Jose Lobato (Movistar) finished the stage with the leading bunch to retain the leader’s yellow jersey.
McCallum’s rider Pete Williams started the day as leader in the Yodel sprints competition. He was unable to feature at the front but he garnered valuable exposure for ONE Pro when he managed to retain the leader’s jersey in that competition.
Another competitor for whom things didn’t go according to plan was local rider Evan Oliphant (Team Raleigh-GAC), who admitted that the opening two days of the race had been tough but that he felt ready to make an impression on the roads where he trains. However, the 33-year-old missed out on the decisive break and rode with the main bunch throughout the day, crossing the line in Blyth 16 seconds down on Gaviria.
Stage five today promised a gruelling 166.2 kilometre haul from Prudhoe across the Pennines to a mountain top finish on Hartside Fell near Penrith.