CORNWALL’S first foray into the exhilarating world of elite cycling could provide a pivotal new platform from which to promote the county’s rich sporting and cultural identity.
That’s the finding of a new study, carried out by researchers at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus.
Research examined the positive impact that Cornwall’s first professional cycling team, Saint Piran, is having on the local community as it creates a cycling hub for elite and amateur riders.
The study showed the team’s strong focus on developing ‘grass roots’ cycling in Cornwall could not only inspire a new generation of professional cyclists within the county, but also reduce the existing talent drain that sees the best cyclists leave to further their career elsewhere in the country.
Dr Michael Leyshon, senior lecturer in human geography at the University of Exeter who led the study, said: “The team could help to raise the aspirations of local young people by celebrating the achievements of young Cornish riders.
“The hope is that the team will provide a focal point for emerging talented cyclists in the county, and could become a beacon of excellence for nurturing our future champions.
“This is an alternative approach, from the velodrome-centric British cycling model, to enabling young cyclists to have an opportunity where they live – albeit on the periphery of England – to make it in professional cycling.”
The owner of Saint Piran, Cornishman Steve Lampier, is a professional cyclist, having finished strongly in several editions of the Tour of Britain and fifth in the 2016 New Zealand Cycling Classic.
Steve said the team was already aiming to achieve UCI Continental status within the next five years, allowing it to compete in the biggest races worldwide.
Steve said: “We have the perfect terrain and young talent to turn Cornwall into a cycling powerhouse.”
Will Harper, the team’s sponsorship manager said: “Saint Piran is unique because it is the only pro team in the UK that is totally synonymous with a region.
“Talented riders in Cornwall now have a clear springboard to the world of professional cycling.”