The Rapha-Condor liked the Tour de Beauce so much last year that they came back this year.
“Last year, we came to the race, we liked it basically, it’s a good race, it’s a nice race, it’s a friendly race.” said Manager John Herety.
The men in the distinctive mostly black jersey raced aggressively, getting in breaks and putting their noses in the wind.
“I don’t have an out and out sprinter, don’t have an out and out climber either hence why we’re quite aggressive, we always like to be in the thick of the action.” said Herety.
In the end, they won two stages both from breaks and put three riders in the top 25 on GC. Darren Lapthorne soloed away from the break to win stage 2 in Thetford Mines and Matt Cronshaw outsprinted and outsmarted his 3 breakmates to win stage 4b, the evening criterium in St-Georges.
On the first stage, Tom Southam slipped into the right break that made it to the finish line with 4 minutes and shuffled the GC around putting 13 riders in contention. According to Herety, Southam is a “slightly under-rated rider, he’s very very strong, no sprint, not a brilliant climber but always there, quite aggressive.”
“This is my first Tour of Beauce but I’ve raced everywhere else for the last ten years or so, I raced in the Worlds in Hamilton in 2003. This is my first year with the Rapha-Condor team, with John, last year I was with a British team, before that an Australian team, before that it was three years in Italy, a year in France, a year in Holland. I’ve been around.” said Southam.
Southam raced with Barloword before deciding to take a hiatus from cycling for a year. Upon his return, he joined Drapac-Porsche team in Australia, and finished second in the National Championships in Britain twice.
On stage 2, the team had a goal to put another rider in the break to try once again and try and get another Rapha-Condor rider in contention on GC. This time it was Lapthorne who went away with two riders early in the 161-km stage. In the final short finishing lap, Lapthorne soloed away from his companions to take the win with the field literally on their wheels.
“I thought that the chances were good actually all day even in the end, I thought we’d hold it off, I was quite confident of that.” said Lapthorne.
Lapthorne is no stranger to Beauce as he finished sixth overall last year while riding for the German Sparkasse team. Another “very talented and under-rated rider” according to Herety, the stage win was “a classic Darren Lapthorne day, it’s what he’s best at.”
First year pro Cronshaw brought the other win to the team, the crit in in St-Georges, second-part of the split stage 4. The race didn’t count for the general classification, but for Herety, “wanted to race it like a proper stage because it’s always hard no matter what you do so you might as well race it properly.”
“Fantastic” said Cronshaw about the Tour de Beauce. “It’s been tough for the past few days but I was up for it tonight.”
Cronshaw got into a 4-break in the early laps of the 40-lap race, with two riders from the Fly V Australia team including home town boy Charles Dionne. But the 20-year old kept his head, stayed in fourth wheel until it was time to launch his sprint.
“A bit of all rounder but I prefer sprinting.” said Cronshaw when asked to describe what type of rider her was. “There’s been quite of lot of crits in the UK recently, I’ve got quite good crit form and it paid off. A bit overwhelmed.”
“He’s a young rider and I would have been happy with a podium place to be honest. A win is absolutely brilliant.” said Herety about Cronshaw’s win.
The other members in the team included Kristian House, Darren Craven, Simon Richardson and Ben Greenwood. Craven, who is from Namibia, is the UCI African region Champion, and rides in a white jersey with red and gold through it. On stage 5, Richardson also made it into the main break of the day, finishing 7th and gaining some time to jump up in the overall.
The Rapha-Condor team continued to race aggressively in the final two stages, with Lapthorne going on a solo flyer again only to be caught back with only a few laps in the circuit on the last day.
About the team. The Rapha-Condor team is in its third year of existence, two years as a UCI Continental Team registered in the UK. Last year, they were called Rapha-Condor-Recycling.co.uk and this year, it’s simply Rapha-Condor, a combination of two companies.
“Rapha is a specialist cycling clothing manufacturer, very much at the high end of the market. Condor is a bike shop in Central London, it’s been there for 60 years. Because there was a lot of synergy between the two companies, the market base that they were looking to sell their products to, decided to put a team together, join forces basically, pool their cycling budgets if you’d like. ” said Herety.
The team races in Europe and also went to Africa earlier this year, the Giro del Cappo, the Tour of Bolland and their goals are the Tour of Britain and the Tour of Ireland towards the end of this season.
The joint venture also promotes three City Center races, three Nocturnes. “One of which took place just on Saturday night, just before we left to come here, it didn’t finish til half past ten at night, not the ideal start to our campaign here.” laughed Herety.
The team is partly funded by a membership scheme.
“Our sponsors, they want to win but not at all costs if you’d like. We have a hundred members, each paying just over a thousand pound each to join the club associated with the team, so we are kind of supported by that group as well. And it’s more about feeding back to those members, making them feel as part of it as well, it’s not like a cut throat cycling team as we know it. ” said Herety.
“For eight years, I was with the British National Team so yeah a lot of success there but it’s kind of nice being with this setup.” concluded Herety.