'A team on a good trajectory' - Yorkshire cyclist Harry Tanfield could be a perfect fit for Saint Piran Pro-Cycling
The 28-year-old from Great Ayton will ride for the up-and-coming Cornish outfit next year after being impressed by the sales pitch of their owner, former cyclist Richard Pascoe.
Tanfield was riding for TDT-Unibet at September’s Tour of Britain, thinking the Dutch continental team would finally offer him the stability he was after following years of bouncing between World Tour and the second tier at the end of every season. But when a second season with TDT was not forthcoming, Saint Piran swooped to make Tanfield a lynchpin of their growth onto the European scene next season – and the former Tour de Yorkshire stage winner jumped at the chance.
“I was talking with Ricci (Pascoe) at the Tour of Britain, I was talking to other teams in Europe as well, but Ricci was keen to have me, thought I would fit in well with my experience with those younger guys as a bit of a road captain,” Tanfield told The Yorkshire Post from a training camp in Thailand.
“Saint Piran ride a really good international programme and Ricci shared a few documents with me of the race programme for next year, and it’s a good list.
“Off the back of a good year this time round they’ll be getting in some good races, so for me that was important to still be racing in Europe and across the world, and not just the UK.”
Saint Piran Pro-Cycling have a big year ahead in 2024.
They are launching a number of initiatives which complement their approach to doing things differently, while they also have a women’s team and an Under-23s development squad.
Crucially for the British scene, they are offering a bridge between the national level and the World Tour circuit, with Ineos Grenadiers at the very top but very little in between.
“It really is a space we can move into,” said Tanfield of his and Saint Piran’s ambitions.
“Now the GB Academy has stopped because the funding has been culled, Saint Piran is becoming what the GB Academy used to be – because right now for young guys on the GB track programme, say, there’s nowhere to go for a road programme.
“So it’s nice Saint Piran gives them the opportunities they would have had previously.
“It’s a shame that that’s the state of British Cycling, that there’s just one team in the UK.
“Saint Piran are trying to improve that situation and it’s not just the men’s team, there’s a women’s team, an Under-23s team, they’ve got a few doing mountain bike. It’s nice they can put riders up to the next level by doing international races which no other team in the UK can do.
“Without them a lot of riders wouldn’t be going pro, and there’s guys stepping up to World Tour from Saint Piran for what they did this year – so they’re doing a lot for the scene.”
Saint Piran’s increased profile in Europe will see them racing in Holland, France and Belgium, which suits Tanfield who wants to remain racing on a wider scale.
He will assume the role of a road captain, which suits his age and experience – “That experience I have can prove valuable, it’s just having that knowledge of what to expect and how we can play it,” – he said.
Asked if he could see himself riding for the famous black and white strip for a lengthy period, Tanfield was reticent to fully commit – mindful of how quick teams come and go in professional cycling, and his own ambitions to get back to the World Tour.
But for the immediate term, there is no doubting it is a good fit, especially since his brother Charlie – who hopes to ride team pursuit on the track at the Paris Olympics – rides on the road with the team.
“Charlie spoke highly of Saint Piran. He did what he wanted to do alongside his busy track schedule and they were very supportive,” said Tanfield.
“As for me, long-term…yes. I thought that this year with my current team but it didn’t work out that way. I’m just thankful for Ricci giving me the opportunity. I think it can be a good long-term relationship because of my role in the team and what I can bring.
“This team has been building every year and I think we can keep building it to be stronger and better. It’s a team that’s on a good trajectory.”
Team owner Pascoe said: “Having a rider with the ability, skill and intelligence of Harry is an incredible lift for everyone as we enter the new season. We want Harry to play a significant part in the management of the team long-term.
“With an exciting road programme and continued sustainability and mental health goals to deliver, Harry’s experience of riding at the top level will bring so much.”