How a small Cornish cycling team rose to compete with Europe’s best

Speaking to Saint Piran founder Ricci Pascoe it’s impossible not to be bowled over by his enthusiasm for both Saint Piran and Cornish cycling in general.

In six short years his team has gone from humble origins to now being ranked 69th out of every cycling team in the world.

Cornwall Live recently announced how Saint Piran will be able to compete on its home turf in the Tour of Britain after securing UCI Continental status, a first for south west cycling teams.

The Saint Piran cycling team was created six years ago and now consists of a pro team, a development team and new for the 2021 season, a women’s team with a number of exciting and talented riders recently recruited from across the UK to represent Saint Piran and Cornwall.

Saint Piran is based at Bike Chain Bissoe, a cafe and cycle hire facility between Truro and Redruth regarded as one of the best cycling cafes in the country.

Ricci said: “The idea is that the team promotes the brand. We’re the only professional sports team in the world without advertising on our kit and it’s really exciting that we’re about to enter the big league.

“Saint Piran has had 47million interactions online and we want it to become the ultimate symbol of Cornish cycling.

“The aim is to give young Cornish riders the opportunity to get into professional cycling, something they haven’t always had in the past. Now we have the pro team and the development team that is run as a pro team.

“It’s an organic brand and model. In 30 years I’ve made so many mistakes, I know what doesn’t work and have seen so much so want to take the good elements of my experience and pour it into Saint Piran and Bike Chain Bissoe.”

With its mix of homegrown talent such as veteran local riders Chris Opie and Steve Lampier, talent recruited from other UK teams and exciting Cornish talent coming through, the future is looking bright for Saint Piran.

Ricci added: “We’ve been inundated with people wanting to get involved. There’s so much doom and gloom around at the moment but we will get through this so we’ve been pushing ahead with our plans for when we come out the other side. We don’t want to get caught out.

Saint Piran has become the first cycling team in the south west to compete at continental level
Saint Piran has become the first cycling team in the south west to compete at continental level

“We’re supposed to be racing in France in February but are obviously waiting to see if that event goes ahead. We’ve been doing all sorts of background preparation and are better than ever. The new riders really help as they bring new energy and ideas.

“Saint Piran’s home and roots will always be in Cornwall, it’s the mark of the county and we can’t wait to represent Cornwall across Europe.”

Plans are afoot to establish a Saint Piran community interest company and all money made from sales of merchandise goes straight back into the team.

Securing UCI Continental status and taking Saint Piran to the next level hasn’t been easy.

Ricci explains: “We had to submit a 160 page document, financial records, details about our racing history and there was lots of scrutiny. It was tough.

“But this is the first time any cycling team in the south west has reached this level so it is huge. We started at the bottom and have worked our way up through the ranks, only taking the next step when the time was right.”

Discussing Cornwall’s cycling boom, Ricci says the Covid-19 pandemic has actually in a way helped.

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He said: “Cycling is safe. You can meet someone else, go for a ride and a chat and still keep your distance.

“It keeps you fit and healthy physically and mentally and it’s great to see so many people out on their bikes. Exercise is very important for a healthy mind.”

Chris Opie and Steve Lampier from the Saint Piran professional cycling
Chris Opie and Steve Lampier from the Saint Piran professional cycling
(Image: Greg Martin/Cornwall Live)

Saint Piran is also preparing a bid for the tenancy of a proposed new cycling centre in Newquay, and hopes that securing such a facility would help push the team and brand even further to the forefront of the cycling world.

Saint Piran also organises events such as the recent open invitation punishing hill climb from Bissoe up to near Threemilestone.

Riccis partner Jenny Bolsom is the driving force behind the new women’s team and one of its riders.

She said: “When we put out a call for riders we didn’t think there’d be many but we had 50 people wanting to join the team and we whittled it down to six which is all we got funding for.

“I race and wanted to be part of a team here. There were no others in the area so I made it happen myself. I first had the idea a year ago and there’s been a huge interest from sponsors.”

The Saint Piran women’s team will competing in competitions at home and abroad.

Cornwall Live