Holdsworth Pro Bikes will be the local fans’ favourites in the Tour de Yorkshire, which covers 701.5km of rolling roads before the finish in Leeds on Sunday afternoon.
The team will be learning with every pedal stroke, but in Rotherham-born Dean Downing they have a vastly-experienced sporting director who knows Yorkshire’s roads and believes they can make an eye-catching impact.
Outlining the importance of the next few days, Downing said: “Holdsworth has a 40-year history which is all London-based, but the owner is a Yorkshire-based company and that’s why it’s a Yorkshire-based brand now.
“We are a new team and getting into the Tour de Yorkshire was a great achievement in itself.
“The team – my brother Russ and Dave Loughran, the boss – sat down in October to talk about how should we do this and to get this far so quickly is phenomenal.
“I have come in a little bit later to help with logistics and management and looking after riders. I am a Yorkshire lad at heart and I am very excited to be on the startline with the lads.
“It is all about getting a Yorkshire brand out there in Holdsworth and we are all proud to do that.”
Some of the world’s top teams have assembled in the White Rose county, but Downing insisted: “We have come up with a race plan.
“I think going for the Yorkshire Bank leaders’ blue jersey is a bit over-ambitious for us as a small team, but we’re not going to be sat at the back saying ‘we’ve got in the Tour de Yorkshire, we can relax now’.
“Since we got the invite the riders knew it involved a small group who could be selected so they have been training and racing very hard.
“The selection has been made now and those riders will be ambitious to be in the breakaway on any given day, to be a strong unit for any finish in a sprint and also to be a strong unit for the Cow and Calf mountain finish and then to be a strong unit on the last day, which is going to be brutal.
“Every team will be having simple gameplans like that and we are no different.
“We have some experienced riders in the team who have raced at this level before. We will be aiming to get in the breakaways and be prominent in the race.
“We are very proud to be a Yorkshire team that’s been invited to the Tour de Yorkshire by the race organisers and we want to do the right thing and race hard every single day until the finish line.”
Previous editions of the race have been held over three days. An extra stage has been added this year and Downing said: “That increases everything for the organisers from a logistical point of view and it does the same for all the teams.
“Being four days it gives us four opportunities to get in breakaways and get up for the sprints and for our riders to be seen to be competitive.”
Russ Downing, a former Team Sky rider, is the star name in Holdsworth’s line-up and Dean described giving orders to his brother as “fun”.
He said: “He sometimes doesn’t listen, but sometimes he does what he’s told!
“We have a good relationship generally as brothers and Russ is at the forefront of the team, with Dave Loughran.
“Dave is heavily involved in the team. He is not like any other team sponsor.
“We all talk to the riders, at different points. Russ’ input is worth everything, we talk about team tactics and he is my eyes out on the road on training days.
“It has been good to sit down afterwards and talk about how he thinks it has gone, on the recces for example. In the UK races we’ve done I am driving the car with a mechanic and we don’t have radios in UK races so Russ is in charge of the riders as team captain and they listen to him and talk to him about how they are feeling.
“It is a good relationship; if he steps out of line I’ll have to tell him, but very rarely does he do that!”
Holdsworth Pro Bikes are showing their support to the Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries by visiting a Leeds-based bike library ahead of the Tour de Yorkshire.