Whether it be Alberto Contador’s famed comeback victory on the Passo del Mortirolo at the 2015 Giro, anything Hugo Koblet ever did on two wheels or, whisper it, Chris Froome’s solo attack on the Colle delle Finestre to win last year’s Giro, the word panache is never far away when reaching for an adjective to describe these feats.
Cycling is a sport sometimes seemingly shackled by it’s adoration of tradition and is certainly not a sport you would think shares much in common with Sky’s celebration of the ‘lad’, Soccer AM.
Enter, Alec Briggs.
A 25-year-old South Londoner who rides for arguably the best fixed gear crit team in the world, Specialized Rocket Espresso, won £10,048 in a Brompton race at the World Cycling Revival last year and rode the Haute Route Norway with David Millar.
If Koblet was the definition of style and panache in his day, anyone who has watched Briggs on two wheels would have to say the same about him – although he has another term for it, Tekkerz.
The word popularised by the Saturday morning football warm up has even provided Briggs with the name for his own team – Tekkerz CC (Cycling Charisma, in case you didn’t know).
Born out of Briggs’ frustrations with the attitudes of the sport’s chattering classes, Tekkerz began life in 2017 but really kicked into gear last summer, including sealing endorsement deals with Specialized, Oakley and Levi’s – not bad for a rag-tag crew out to rock the status quo.
Racing three rounds of the Tour Series with a junior cyclocross world champion and a former European steher champion on his roster, Briggs’ Tekkerz did their name justice.
They twice finished as the top ranked guest team in their three appearances and, in the last round, ended up third overall – beating the likes of UCI Continental outfits Team WIGGINS, JLT Condor and ONE Pro Cycling.
And although Tekkerz continued to enjoy favourable results in the long hot summer of 2018 – dominating proceedings at Briggs’ local haunt, the Crystal Palace Crits, and recording a top-five finish at the London Nocturne elite race – their founder is adamant his fledgling team is about more than just results.
“I started it because I was a bit fed up with cycling how it was, I think I got a bit annoyed at a combination of things,” he explained as we watched Tekkerz young gun Ben Tulett dominate the junior race at the British Cyclocross Championships, winning gold while wearing the rainbow bands of world champion.
“I felt like at regional-level racing, there was a lot of self-entitlement – which I think extends higher up too, but perhaps a bit differently – people feel they are entitled to be given equipment like it’s disposable for the brands supporting them and always want more for so little in return, kit, respect, whatever.
“It needs to be more of a two-way thing. With Instagram and all that, people forget that kit and support and time comes at the cost of someone or a company.
“There needs to be less taking and expecting the best equipment for the sake of having a bit of a following and taking some pictures with haghtags.
“There needs to be more offering in return to sponsors of cycling so all parties can grow and maintain supporting each other.
“So I wanted to do my own thing, carve my own path and offer youths and juniors, and eventually women – hopefully this year – the platform where they can learn and take something with them.
“It’s a team that had some fun and tried to change road cycling a bit, just by relaxing a bit and seeing if we could take down some of the big dogs, and inspire some young ‘uns to get hyped on the way.”
Briggs is a modern day cycling polymath, a genuinely world-class talent when it comes to racing technical street circuits on a track bike, he is also competitive at national level when it comes to cyclocross, crit racing or mountain biking.
In 2018 he made it a hat-trick of wins at the London Nocturne fixie race, raced the Brooklyn and Milan Red Hook Crits and became one of the faces of the Beryl bike light company – anyone who has ridden a Santander Cycle in London and seen their laser-projected green bike on the road will be familiar with their work – oh and he DJs whenever the opportunity arises.
When it comes down to it, though, this South London boy just wants to have fun on his bike and to share his love of everything two-wheeled with anyone willing to go on the journey with him.
“Last year I didn’t really want to bite off too much more than I could chew – but I still think I did that anyway, even trying to be a bit conservative with it,” he added.
“This year, we want to improve on what we can do, we learned a lot. So now it’s time to make some wicked videos, take a step back, offer some training sessions.
“Little things like running talks, getting youth riders, female riders, male riders, all talking to each other and trying to break down some of the crapness in cycling to make it more accessible and fun.
“It’s not all about winning, it’s about how stuff happens and making people have a good time.
“If people can go to our website, see some cool bike stuff, listen to some wicked music, watch a cool movie, take something to apply to their normal life, then that’d be amazing.”
Top of the list of British talent Briggs hopes to help is Tulett and his older brother Dan – himself a world junior cyclocross silver medallist in 2017 – who both rode for Tekkerz last summer following a long-standing connection between their father and Briggs.
Alistair Tulett had helped an ambitious young Briggs with equipment and transport to races as a youth rider.
Now in his mid-20s and, by most people’s definitions, having made a success out of cycling, Briggs is keen for other youngsters to learn from his mistakes.
“When I was Ben’s age, I expected a lot from myself,” added the 2018 South East regional cyclocross champion.
“I didn’t come from a cycling background but I’m quite competitive and I just wanted to win stuff. “As a first-year junior I thought I was going to go on to be British ‘cross champ that year, then next year I’d try to get worlds, be the first Brit since Roger Hammond to win the junior race – that was my goal.
“But I kept getting ill all the time because I wasn’t aware of how to look after my body, how to eat properly, sleep, not go out, say no to things.
“I had FOMO [fear of missing out] all the time, I wanted to go out with my friends and although what I wanted most was to win British and World Champs, I just shot myself in the foot.
“It took me years to admit it was me that did that – even after uni.
“Then I thought I would love to at least set up something so that youths know how to go about doing it, so that they’ve got someone telling them not to worry about chasing girls every weekend or doing whatever.
“Your friends will still be there a week later. It’s a hard thing for a teenager to understand because there’s a lot of pressure on them.”
Briggs’ long-term ambition is to create a permanent crit circuit at his spiritual cycling home of Herne Hill.
The track that nurtured Sir Bradley Wiggins’ nascent talent was also where, as a child, Briggs learned to love push-biking, rather than his previous passion of speedway.
Because while Crystal Palace Park – whose dinosaurs adorn the sleeves of the Tekkerz jersey in a style reminiscent of the iconic Kappa logo – has provided his team with a home for now, Briggs wants a lasting legacy to the racing he adores.
“I’m in chats with a few people, trying to make something happen, trying to give London a proper crit track, one that it deserves, one that emulates Crystal Palace and has that same sort of technical challenges,” he revealed.
“I’d love to make it a permanent fixture, run some big events, I can’t really say too much because I don’t want to jinx it all.
“I want to put that circuit at Herne Hill that stabilises that venue and allows it to live on forever because that is just my favourite place in the world, so anything that adds to that venue then wicked.
“It’s always a fight to keep it going.”
For now though, the man who does wheelies for fun, likes to get his hand down in tight turns on ‘tech’ crit circuits and prefers to ‘endo’ round a corner at the British Cyclocross Championships because “it was actually quicker, no lies”, will settle for this.
“Basically, my goal is to make mountain bikers think ‘what the fuck did I just see?!’ That’s the goal.”
Main picture courtesy of Team Specialized-Rocket Espresso.