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Rapha-Condor-JLT are currently competing at the Tour du Loir-et-Cher in the rolling countryside of central France. Comprising five stages and 861 kilometres and racing against 27 other teams, including development squads for ProTour teams, it’s another important test for the team’s young riders, including Irish criterium champion Felix English.
It's your second season with Rapha-Condor-JLT, you're a veteran now, how's it going?
The start to the year has been really positive. I'm feeling like a totally different rider to last year.
Have you learnt a lot in the past twelve months?
Definitely. The many bollockings from team man- ager John Herety have sunk in, although it may have taken a bit longer than he’d have liked.
Who, in this team, has the potential to ride for a WorldTour team one day?
I’d probably say Luke Mellor. That guy is lean as hell and can still sprint pretty bloody strongly, too. He’s showing this year that he can win.
You famously beat Chris Hoy in a match sprint in 2010: is the track still your favourite battleground?
I haven’t ridden the track in a good while. I do miss it and think I could’ve done well at a world level but I enjoy the road more and more each year.
What’s been the toughest race so far this season?
My first international race of the year the other week, Boucle de l’Artois [a UCI Europe Tour 2.2 race in northern France]. Crosswinds and cobbled bergs are always hard.
Herety was saying early season racing is always dangerous, surely the danger element is part of the 'fun'?
Ah I just love racing in general so I'm always happy to be pinning a number on my jersey. But yeah, you've got to make sure you look after yourself really well, as you can easily cook yourself before the end of the year - like I did in 2012…
What's Tom Southam like as a DS?
A total hardass b*stard! Haha, Tom is really good to have around. He's raced at the top level and always has a positive and energetic air about him
What is your greatest ambition for this season?
I want to be consistently strong throughout the whole year. Picking up top 10's in these UCI races and winning a Tour Series round would be pretty cool
Sean Kelly or Stephen Roche?
Kelly: his melodic tones and accurate pronunciations always have me glued to my telly box!
Black or white socks?
- A Rapha travel set is up for grabs in Alpe D'Quiz today, featuring a luxurious Rapha Skincare bundle and Wash Bag. → http://t.co/3n8XlqiNYq
- Cool to see our friends @chriskingbuzz representing in the mix of the elite men's race. #mycielo Parbo! http://t.co/L8g8gNofyR
- The masked man on the cyclocross course today was @jeremypowers. It was that cold. http://t.co/KztIjCYu4O
- Calm and confident on the snow - Katerina Nash is off to an early lead. http://t.co/8TynNP7Nho
- Mr. McDonald's tire choice for today's snowy conditions. Can you guess his PSI? http://t.co/2iHgOw6sUw
- They reopened the ice covered fly-over here in Bend. http://t.co/6xOs5BSd0W
- River City Bicycles racer Ryan (Dream) Weaver 2_wicked_awesome powered his way to a chilly 2nd in the… http://t.co/HDDjDnS99w
- Meanwhile over in Bend, Oregon it is a bright, crisp day for cyclocross racing. http://t.co/6lcDQK5UNX
- If you're in Scottsdale, Arizona, make sure to stop by the beautiful new @bicyclehaus shop. 2 - 7pm. http://t.co/gsWtf6fa45
- Win today's Alpe D'Quiz prize: a Men's or Women's Classic Softshell. ‘A thing of beauty,’ according to The Times. → http://t.co/3n8XlqiNYq