If the rules change to ban them, they want to go with a bang!
Derby’s National Champion Team Pursuit cycling squad Team HUUB Wattbike have launched their new line-up, sponsors and ambitions ahead of what could be their final season. The sports governing body is proposing new rules that would prevent ‘trade teams’ from competing in world-class events and embarrassing elite national teams by taking them on and beating them, as Team HUUB have done in recent seasons. And if they have to go, Team HUUB wants to go out with a bang!
In a tongue-in-cheek swipe at the authorities, Team HUUB have dubbed their base as the People’s Republic of Derbados and commissioned a new flag and helmet design based on the Derbyshire flag!
“We’re still waiting for absolute confirmation that it happens,” says Dan Bigham, the driving force behind the team at their 2019-20 launch at Derby Arena. “If it does then we’re at a loose end, having our stage taken away from us. We don’t want to step down to Class 1 and Class 2 because it becomes harder to want to be competitive because they’re easier races.
“This is my life. I want to win, I want to do well, I just want every single one of us to sit on that start line knowing we have done everything we absolutely can to prepare to push those pedals round real quick.”
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Dan set a some goals for last season which were achieved and paved the way for other success. “The first goal was for the team to ride a 3.53 and we did that in our second ride at the Paris World Cup, so that was a box ticked. We also won the Team Pursuit title in the London World Cup which was always going to be our A race. That was our pinnacle so far.
“John Archibald broke the Individual Pursuit world record, twice. That wasn’t a goal but it was nice to have. We also regained our National Champion stripes which wasn’t a target but it was great to have and we’re looking forward to wearing them this year.”
The immediate goal is victory at the first three World Cup events in Minsk, Belarus (30 October – 3 November), Glasgow (7 – 9 November) and Brisbane, Australia 12 – 15 December). “In short we want to win them all. No times, no targets, just go there and win. It’s just about execution and that’s where having two more riders is going to benefit us. Instead of going into every round with the same team we can rest riders and bring people in with different strengths. It’s another string to our bow and I’m really excited to see how that goes.
“Off the back of that is the National Championships, hopefully the World Championships and then we’re off to Bolivia and have a good crack at some world records. The primary one is the Team Pursuit record, we are a pursuit team, after all. Being up there we thought we’d have a go at a few other records, Individual Pursuit is the big one, the Hour record for a bit of fun, Jonny will probably have a go at the Kilo. We’re up there once, let’s maximise it!”
As an engineer Dan is constantly searching for performance improvements in every aspect of the team’s equipment and preparation. Sponsorship has increased for the coming year and Team HUUB will have the best equipment available.
“New partners, Vita Coco have brought a huge amount in financial investment, Bowmer & Kirkland have stepped up a huge amount as well, and new ones in Argon 18 with some nice Derbados bikes, Vorteq have come on board alongside HUUB in skinsuit technology development which means we’re going to be in the fastest skinsuits that we’ve ever had. It’s great, lots of little British companies that support what we’re doing and a good R&D testing ground for them for new technology with instant feedback, instant improvement and then get the results that they’re after.”
In addition, advanced technology specialists Meggitt are known locally for their close association with Rolls-Royce while CeramicSpeed are developing radical drivetrain concepts and Derby firm Pentaxia are leaders in advanced composite tooling.
Commonwealth Games Individual Pursuit silver medallist John Archibald is looking forward to the new equipment available for the coming season. “It’s always exciting going into a new season with reasons to think you’re going to go faster. It would be a shame if you came into it and didn’t have these exciting prospects. It’s a progression forwards and it could be our last year.
“That’s a bit of a let-down. Everyone seems to sympathise with our point of view and they’re struggling to sympathise with the UCI’s point of view but I don’t think it’s going to change. We have to make the most of this next couple of months and maximise what we have left.”
The World Record attempts in Bolivia will be at an altitude of 2,600m and, as part of their preparation for the World Record assault, the team have had an altitude chamber installed at their home in Derby. Dan Bigham has set John the challenge of 3m 59s for the 4000m Individual Pursuit record, currently held by team mate Ashton Lambie at 4m 5.423s.
“It’s a shame not to set lofty goals and the repercussions of failing in those goals isn’t massive to us. We are enjoying it and the sponsors are keen for us to pull something out of the bag and there’s the desire there to do so. Certainly, the Team Pursuit record is the focus, so heading to Bolivia that will be our main aim. The Individual Pursuit is a realistic one and if the maths pans out, as we feel it might, we could be on for it.”
The team will be guided, this year, by team principal Richard ‘the man who gets it done’ Needham. Alongside Dan and John, team founder members Jonny Wale and Jacob Tipper return as will Ashton Lambie for the Brisbane World Cup event. He will be riding for Team USA in Minsk and Glasgow. The team will be bolstered by new boys University of Derby student Will Perrett and Kyle Gordon who is keen to make his mark at 31 years of age.
“The past two years have been a bit of a whirlwind,” said Kyle. “I gave up my job in the oil industry to give myself six months to make it to the Commonwealth Games with Scotland. I got selected and went to the Games and had some top 10 finishes with world class times, committed another year full time and picked up two bronze medals at the National Championships. I was self-funded and running out of money when Dan asked me to come for a trial with the team and signed the contract in August.
“When Dan asked me down I had just three team pursuit events behind me. I was a complete novice and Dan said he would teach me. I was thrown in the deep end: ride fast, on the wheel, a million things to think about travelling at that speed and a massive learning curve. We’re getting there but I’m learning from the best guys with the best kit. I’m in good hands.”
It’s most likely that this will be the final fling for Team HUUB from Derbados, but be in no doubt that Dan Bigham and his team are determined to make sure they go out with the biggest possible bang!