Double Olympic cycling medallist Bryan Steel has launched his own race team, hoping to unearth the stars of tomorrow.
The Godfrey Bikewear Race Team, led by captain Ross Lamb, from Mansfield, and made up of Nottingham racer Corey Ashley, 20, Beeston cycling duo David Ogg, 22, and Pierre Vernie, 20, were unveiled at Derby Arena this afternoon (March 1).
They will be backed by a whole range of sponsors, including Vision Express, who Steel has been in negotiations with for nearly three years, as all parties began to develop an idea to help create a pathway for local riders to compete at the top.
It is something Steel has wanted to do since retiring and is thought to be the first operation of its kind in the East Midlands.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Steel who competed in four Olympic Games, winning bronze at Sydney 2000 and silver at Athens 2004, along with five World Championship medals - among a glittering cycling career.
“You feel like it’s the end of the journey but in reality it’s just the start. The guys will start racing soon and I’m sure that will provide a whole glut of headaches as well.”
He wants to give promising riders from across the region the chance to fulfill their potential.
“I was supported by people wanting to help talented riders in the area and I would not have achieved my success without those people, so initially I wanted to give back in my own little way,” said the rider turned coach.
“I’ve done a lot of coaching over the last three or four years and I felt that in the East Midlands we have a good crop of riders, good racers, but these guys are so good they can get to the top.
“We’ve got some really talented riders this year and they could perform nationally and internationally. I felt there is a big gulf between a good local rider and that level, so we’ve set up a team to help bridge that.
“We want to give the riders the best support, best coaching, best of my knowledge from being a national rider and give them the skills they need to have the best opportunity possible to reach their potential.”
Lamb, a former footballer who had spells at Notts County and Mansfield Town during his teenage years, Ashley, Ogg and Vernie are the first four recruits to the Bryan Steel Academy, which will help supplement the team.
They face a gruelling summer schedule of around 85 road races including The Milk Race, in Nottingham, National Championships and National Series events. Then in August the team will go to Belgium, exposing the quartet to international competition.
They will receive support and coaching on the way by Steel and team director Mick Padley, with individual riders set targets to finish in the British Top 50. The team are aiming to break into the top 30.