FOUR Hartlepool cyclists are amongst the best performing riders in the North-East ahead of tomorrow’s Yorkshire Tour de France Grand Depart.
The world’s most watched sporting event begins in Leeds tomorrow with stage one ending in Harrogate.
The peloton rolls out from York on Sunday and commences in Sheffield.
While all eyes will be on whether Mark Cavendish can win stage one and hold off the challenge of Marcel Kittel and, if Chris Froome can avoid any early problems in his quest to defend his title, closer to home a quaternary of town cyclists are enjoying success themselves.
The Teesside-based Manilla Cycling Team, in its debut year, tops the North-East table of top-performing teams, ahead of the established outfits such as Achieve, Cleveland Wheelers and Adept Precision.
Adam Brooks, 28, is just one of the town four donning the Manilla jerseys, Jon Moran, 41, John Guttridge, 28, and Matt Turnbull, 36, gaining results in the saddle.
Thus far the team have won five races, boarded the podium several more times and despite the club being in its infancy it has placed itself amongst its rivals as the region’s most fearful team.
Adam, who was recruited as a rider and coach by the team’s founder Tony McDonagh, told SportMail: “It’s a massive achievement by the team so far.
“It’s been great to see riders develop so much and have some very good races.”
The motivation for forming the club was a result of the “old-school” approach of many of the area’s clubs.
Adam does not mean that as a slight on said clubs, it is merely a reiteration of the opinions that have been circling the North-East roads and circuits in recent years.
With the sport’s popularity rising – and only set to rise because of the Tour – Manilla’s entrance into the region’s racing scene is improving the quality of competition and racing accessibility in the area.
He continued: “We don’t want to be like other clubs in the area. We attracted riders who want to race, even those who’ve never raced before but want to.
“We are a racing club, first and foremost.
“But we are still receptive to new riders, recreational cyclists. We don’t turn people down.
“Teenagers, those at college or uni, we are always after riders of that age.
“If they want to get into racing then we are on hand to assist them.
”The set-up is as akin to a professional outfit as an amateur team could possibly be.
“We have gym sessions, a club physio (which is Gutridge), club runs and we go on three training camps a year.
“We have a created a professional environment,” Adam, who runs the town-based Peak Performance Sport Academy, explained.
Aspirations for the future are even grander: “Eventually we would like to have elite riders, although our focus will always be on the grassroots of the sport at 3rd and 4th cat national level.
“We want a football team-type structure – lower levels teams, women’s teams and then our top team.
”This weekend Adam and co. are ditching their own lycra and instead watching the pros ride round the Yorkshire countryside.
Adam has witnessed the Tour in its native country before and hopes that it has an impact on the sport in the UK.
“I hope it has an effect,” he said.
“This is the first Tour where I’ve seen schools getting on board.
“Even if one or two kids get on board that’s success
“It depends on British Cycling and sport clubs like ourselves promoting it and continuing the legacy to keep the momentum going.
”Anyone interested in riding for the club can contact Adam on email@example.com.
Where can I watch the Tour this weekend?
THE closest place the Tour comes to the Hartlepool area is tomorrow.
The tour passes Grinton Moor (47 miles away, near Richmond), which also doubles up as a category 3 climb.
The peloton will ride the 3km, average gradient of 6.6 per cent climb at a scheduled climb of 3.05pm.
It is advised to get there several hours ahead of the riders passing.
Visit www.letour.yorkshire.com for details on other places to watch.