‘It depends how Team Ineos race but there’s plenty who can win it’: John Herety predicts open race as domestic riders take on the World Tour boys

Former British road race champion John Herety believes this weekend’s race in Norfolk could be an open affair.

Herety, who triumphed in Harrogate in 1982, says the flat 125.2-mile loop – which starts and finishes in Norwich – probably isn’t hard enough to make the selection.

And that means that while the World Tour riders will definitely fancy their chances – with a strong Team Ineos contingent expected to fare well – predicting a winner is near-impossible.

But Herety said: “I think the World Tour riders will definitely be in the driving seat and it’s almost theirs to lose.

“I think there’s enough of them that want to race, certainly Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Chris Lawless (all Team Ineos) will all be up for it.

“It depends how Ineos ride it in a way and I am sure they will want to win the national championships in the team. If they put all their eggs in one basket with Lawless and ride for a small group sprint.”

Embed from Getty Images

Herety believes if it does end with a small bunch going to the line then the likes of Lotto Soudal’s Adam Blythe, a winner in 2016, EF Education First’s Dan McLay and even Mark Cavendish could be in contention.

Cavendish, who took the national title in 2014, has struggled with illness over the last couple of seasons but Herety believes his class is permanent.

He said: “Cav hasn’t been in the best of form but he’s been quietly going about his business, training-wise, and getting himself ready for the Tour de France so you can never rule Cav out.”

Aside from Tour de Yorkshire winner Lawless, Team Ineos have a wealth of other options and Herety predicts any number could be in with a chance of a win.

“Lawless will definitely be one to watch but Swift is fast as well so they’ve got more than one potential winner there. You also can’t count Stannard running out on his own,” he said.

“The thing is if you give it Stannard to keep it together then you lost him in the finale.

“Owain Doull is going well. He’s very, very fast so I can see a number of different scenarios there. If it comes down to a sprint then those are the ones to watch. 

Embed from Getty Images

“It could also come down to the numbers that a team has in that finale. If Ineos get two or three riders in that final breakaway then it could be a sprint or Doull or Stannard going long. 

“They’ll certainly be praying for strong winds this weekend because if they get that then Ineos will be difficult to beat because they’ve got so much strength there.”

Connor Swift won last year’s road race in Northumberland as a member of the soon-to-close Madison Genesis team.

He’s since moved up to Pro Continental level with French team Arkea Samsic and Herety says he also has a chance to become the first rider to retain the national jersey since Peter Kennaugh, then of Team Sky, did so in 2015.

He said: “OK, he’s gone to the continent in the last month or so but he won it as a domestic-based rider last year and you can’t rule him out this weekend. 

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’dzw0UDYfTGF4F9R6GZDGbg’,sig:’Mtxlp_BLn-FCBlzc96dmSSbxkSkrBKOCRSvNtjocPng=’,w:’594px’,h:’395px’,items:’1152889129′,caption: false ,tld:’co.uk’,is360: false })});//embed-cdn.gettyimages.com/widgets.js

“He’s got number one on his back, he’s done it before, he’s highly-motivated now that he’s got his chance at the next level up.”

One thing that will be missing from Sunday’s race is the added spice that used to exist between domestic-based riders and their colleagues who plied their trade overseas.

Back in Herety’s racing days, riders from the UK scene were openly hostile to those coming back from the likes of France, Italy and Spain to race the national championships.

But the former JLT Condor boss, who was also in the team car for Kristian House’s win in 2009, believes this weekend’s race will be an altogether more cordial affair.

He said: “The animosity isn’t there anymore. Having managed at that level, in that environment, it’s definitely not there anymore.

“They just know how strong they are. There’s a fear on the domestic part, although perhaps not this weekend because the course is not as difficult as it has been.”

Embed from Getty Images

There was certainly an edge to the 1982 road race, which Herety won from a reduced bunch sprint ahead of fellow continental pro Sean Yates and Bill Nickson, who’d had a stint with Dutch team TI–Raleigh in the late 1970s.

The ‘foreign legion’ was lead by the late Paul Sherwen while Herety himself was a first year pro having signed for French outfit Coop-Mercier.

Sherwen had been desperate to win the race himself but when it became clear he wasn’t able to get the support he needed, Herety says he opened the door for him to win.

“There was a real them versus us scenario with the continental pros against the domestic riders,” he said.

“The UK scene was strong, especially with riders like Sid Barras who I always thought would have been really successful had he raced on the continent full time.

“He won a stage of the Tour de Suisse but he and the others didn’t like it when we came back for the national championships.

“Paul was the ringleader and he got us together asking for support because he really wanted to win it. He was encouraging us not to ride for any of the domestic riders.

“Me, Paul and Sean Yates got into the break and Paul asked me to sit on the back of it because he said if he wasn’t going to win it then I was.”

Herety believes that the fact he was a first year pro – and perhaps not as vocal as Sherwen – meant he got away with sitting in as the race developed.

Embed from Getty Images

He said: “I knew as soon as I hit the back of the break in the end I was going to win. I went with about 200m to go and I just knew that I would be fast enough to win it once I’d got past them.”

The drama didn’t stop there thought – Herety reveals he temporary lost his winner’s medal after taking a well-earned rest after the podium presentations.

He laughed: “It was such a hot day and after the race, I sat down but when I got up I left my medal there on grass! Luckily someone handed it in but it wasn’t a great move was it?”

Back then, the winners of the national championships were invited by their team to the Tour de France.

But Herety knew he perhaps wasn’t ready for the step up and was thankful a teammate – Régis Clère – was able to bail him out with his own triumph… on French soil.

He said: “I knew I wasn’t ready for it. Luckily, my teammate Régis Clère won the French national championships the same day so it gave them a reason not to take me.

“Had I have gone then my career may have been over even quicker than it was!”

After his road race success, Herety spent another couple of seasons with Coop-Mercier but struggled to get results, although he did finish second on the fifth stage of Paris-Nice in 1983.

Embed from Getty Images

He returned to the British scene in 1985 with Ever Ready before moving to Percy Bilton in 1986 where he started his managerial career.

A six-year stint with British Cycling followed before he moved to Recycling.co.uk in 2006 and spent 12 years managing it’s various iterations before JLT-Condor disbanded at the end of last season.

The second part of our chat with John Herety, which deals with the issues of the British domestic scene, will appear on Allez! Allez! CC next week.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close