The new team: Matthew Adair, Kyle Houston, Leo McAllister, Andrew Hedley, Conor McAllister and Gareth McKee
The online cycling retail giant ChainReactionCylces.com is taking a significant step into the Irish racing scene, launching its first ever team and choosing an all-Irish line up.
The new ‘ChainReactionCycles-Vitus’ squad, which is comprised of six road and MTB riders, has just been unveiled by the Co Antrim headquartered company.
The line up includes: Conor McAllister, Kyle Houston, Leo McAllister, Andrew Hedley, Matt Adair and Gareth McKee.
The establishment of the team appears to be a vehicle to promote the company’s Vitus bikes; the classic model relaunched as a house brand by ChainReactionCycles in 2010.
Former world No 1 Sean Kelly rode Vitus bikes during his career and having helped promote the brand during its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, Kelly is now a Vitus brand ambassador.
ChainReactionCycles has also just become involved as a sponsor with the An Post-Sean Kelly team for the 2012 season.
The new ‘ChainReactionCycles-Vitus’ team will ride one-day and stage races across Ireland and will also ride British road and MTB XC races.
Nigel Elder, house brands project coordinator at CRC, told stickybottle the plan to establish the team had been in the pipeline for the past 18 months. He was now looking forward to personally managing the road team at races across Ireland and Britain during the coming season.
He said Conor McAllister was the first rider he had spoken to about the project last year and he had known Leo McAllister for a number of years, as well as Kyle Houston, who formerly worked at CRC. Andrew Hedley had already been racing with ChainReactionCycles cycling club and was another obvious choice for the new spin-off trade-team outfit, he said.
“On the mountain biking side of things we already had Matthew (Adair) riding for Vitus and after a strong season last year it was a no brainer to get him involved in the new project,” said Elder.
“We were then looking for another rider for MTB XC events and having known Gareth (McKee) for quite a few years through the downhill MTB scene, and knowing his true potential, we had a chat and he expressed a real interest in coming on board in riding XC for the new set-up this year.”
“This is the first CRC road team and it’s very much just the beginning. My plans are to incorporate more road cyclists into the CRC cycling club and that would then be the breeding ground for riders to step up and ride for the CRC-Vitus team.”
CRC company public relations and events manager Simon Cordner said he was delighted with the athletes on board for the team’s first season.
“We’ve supported individual athletes in the past, but this year we’re excited to launch a full team, representing CRC onboard our house brand Vitus bikes,” he said.
“We’ve selected a great group of riders who we feel can represent ChainReactionCycles and the Vitus brand successfully.”
The road team will also be supported by Zipvit Sports in 2012. The MTB members will ride ‘Rapide 1’ carbon XC bikes and Vitesse Carbon road bikes for training. The road team will ride Vitesse carbon road bikes and Chrono carbon TT bikes.
The riders will wear Uvex helmets and OneTen Apparel clothing. A support vehicle is being supplied by Dennison Commercial.
(See photos below)
Matthew Adair is an 18-year-old student from Banbridge who came to MTB after first trying BMX. Successful at both the road and off road, he was Irish Junior XC Champion in 2010 and also rode the Junior Tour on the Irish team. He plans to focus on MTB in the year ahead and is targeting a high overall placing in the National Points Series in Ireland as well as good results in major races in Britain.
Gareth McKee is a 23-year-old electronic engineering graduate from Banbridge and is well known in off road circles. He represented Ireland at the Downhill European Champions in Italy and won the XC National Points Series last year. He plans to focus in 2012 on the XC national points series’ in Ireland, Scotland and England and is also wants to ride Enduro and XC events at European level.
Conor McAllister is a 23-year-old plant maintenance engineer from Glenarm in Co Antrim. After finishing 4th in the Tour of the North in 2010, he hopes to ride the An Post Ras this year as well as a number of British Premier Calendar races.
Kyle Houston is a 24-year-old surveyor from Belfast. Winner of the Groucho GP in 2011 and the Noel Taggart Memorial the previous year, he also cites the An Post Ras as a goal this year.
Leo McAllister is aged 21 years and is an electrical engineering student from Glenarm. A winner of the Cicli Sport GP in 2009 and 3rd in the John Moore Memorial in 2010, he is hoping in 2012 to leave behind the injuries that have dogged him in recent years and get consistent results.
Andrew Hedley is a 22-year-old from Belfast who works in ChainReactionCycles retail operation. He was third U23 in Ras Dhun na nGall in 2010 and is looking to target races like the Portaferry Three-Day, Suir Valley Three-Day and National Championships this year.
All photos courtesy Nigel Elder
Kyle Houston, Leo McAllister, Conor McAllister and Andrew Hedley
Leo McAllister leads the group out training
Vitus Vitesse 2012 – the team’s www.chainreactioncycles.com branded mounts