There is unlikely to be a prouder team to line up on the start line of the Tour de Yorkshire on April 29 than NFTO, writes Nick Westby.
Equally, there is unlikely to be a squad of riders who are better prepared.
For next week, the team that is based predominently in the White Rose will embark on their first full-scale reconnoitre of the three stages that will make the second staging of the Tour de Yorkshire.
“We’re taking the Tour de Yorkshire very seriously,” says Tom Barras, NFTO’s director-sportiff. “And there’s no better way of getting a feel for a stage than riding it.
“It’s a fantastic event. I rode it last year and it’s likely riding a stage of the Tour de France on your own roads.”
On Tuesday, NFTO will recreate stage one from Beverley to Settle, Wednesday stage two from Otley to Doncaster, and Thursday the final race from Middlesbrough to Scarborough.
“We’ll cover every inch of the course so the riders know every turn, climb and cross-wind,” says Barras, who will have 11 of the team’s 13 riders under his wing next week.
The Tour de Yorkshire represents a huge opportunity for NFTO because a team that operates at the third-tier continental level needs exposure to attract sponsors.
“Success for us is all about publicity,” continues Barras.
“If we have a rider in a break or get a jersey in the Tour de Yorkshire or Tour of Britain then that’s massive publicity for us.
“NFTO’s Ian Bibby won the Dimension Data jersey for the most aggressive rider at last year’s Tour de Yorkshire and that was huge for us.
“Next week is an opportunity for us to enhance our chances of repeating that feat or making even bigger strides, like getting in a break or getting a guy on the podium.”