Wheelbase Team Interview with Toby Dalton

The athletes have ridden in a lot of races this year, has it been a tough season?

Yep, tough but successful! We finished a very credible 7th overall in the British Cycling Elite Race series which, given that the top 5 teams have budgets way in excess of ours and squads of full-time paid riders we’re really happy. Our 7th place was testament to consistency of effort and time spent on the road up and down the UK.

What has been your highlight of the year?

It was the Jupiter London Nocturne. The race takes place on a Friday evening in June and the 1.2km circuit around the Smithfield Meat Market near Farringdon is always at least 4 deep on the barrier with a crowd of 25,000. Road racing has stepped up another gear in 2014 and as the popularity of the sport has grown so has the money coming in. The divide between the top 4 teams (Rapha JLT, Madison Genesis, NFTO and Raleigh) and 2nd tier teams like ourselves has increased massively.

We operate on a budget around £30,000 while the big 4 are around the £1million mark with 12 full-time paid riders and support staff. For 2015 we are looking to concentrate our efforts on races we can do well at; this will include the full British Cycling Elite Criterium Series, plus the flatter but classic races like the Lincoln GP, Circuit of the Fens and Stockton Grand Prix plus one-offs like the CiCle Classic and London Nocturne.

We are also going to do more early season racing in Belgium to get the lads up to speed quicker. The 2014 race was bitter-sweet for WHEELBASE ALTURA MGD; one of our top riders Adam Duggleby got in a 4-man break and rode his Giro socks off to keep the break dangling at 20 seconds for the entire race, it was nail biting stuff! Adam, while doing the majority of the work in the break, also looked the strongest and was hunting the £1,000 win. However, going onto one of the last corners he lost his front wheel and crashed heavily into the barriers. The race was then won by Tobyn Horton of Madison Genesis. It could have been the most prestigious win for Adam and the team in 2014 but I’m afraid it wasn’t to be. We were so close but racing can be cruel.

What do you want to see happen for Wheelbase Altura this year? Has your focus shifted?

The plan is to keep our squad fresher for longerand focus on the races we can do well at, andnot stretch ourselves over the entire calendar.

Do you think the increased popularity of non - competitive sportive has taken riders away from crit series? Or has it encouraged increased participation in more cycling events such as crits?

Certainly where our team is based in the North West and North East we have seen the more local Crit leagues filling up with people wanting to give it a go. A Crit provides racing on closed-circuits over 1 hour so it is a very different proposition to a sportive. Riders are now becoming more and more confident in their bike handling to give it a go and it’s great to see! I can only see Crit race participation growing in the years to come. However, expect some big crashes!

Do you think the popularity of cyclocross events will lead to teams putting a greater focus on the CX season?

Grassroots participation is CycloCross is growing in much the same way as Crit racing. It’s an hour race so people can train for it and be competitive. In the past we have had a good CycloCross team and WHEELBASE CANNONDALE CX Team were National Champions in 2009, however the lack of TV coverage and spectators for the main National Trophy races meant that it is not as good a proposition for sponsors. The team also like having a rest over the winter months! The huge crowds at the Milton Keynes UCI CycloCross World Cup round last week may change this in the future. Lewis Craven and Jack Humphreys are riding well for WHEELBASE ALTURA MGD in the 2014/15 National CycloCross Series this winter and you can keep up to date with the results and all team news on our dedicated website;