“Endura Goodie bag!” I’m not used to “freebies”; by the time Dave or Martin and I stumble into the press room at races, all the goodies have gone – but we have the best suntans.
However, when Jim McFarlane mentioned “goodie bag” I was out to Livingston like a ferret.
It seemed like a shame to waste a trip to Endura and not interview the main man. The timing was perfect, Jim was just back from seeing his boys in action at Haut Var.
Was the pro team your decision, Jim?
“It was a joint decision between the directors, Kevin Haig, Pamela Haig and myself.”
For the cost of a team, you could have done a lot of glossy advertising.
“In the UK we’re market leaders in the mountain bike clothing field.
“But to be competitive against the high end road clothing manufacturers we need a platform, a show case for our new Equipe range which is launched at the end of March.
“We need to show that our road clothing is credible – and of course, there’s the product development aspect.”
Sportivs/Fondos/Marcas must be a big market?
“Equipe is targeting that market, yes.
“It’s a big market and one of the reasons that the team races in Europe.
“It all fits in well, we’re going to supply Europe direct from Livingston – we’re already getting good feedback on our road clothing from France and Spain and we’ve just started two account managers in France.”
How difficult was it to get partners?
“We had conversations with others but the match with Fisher Outdoor is perfect; they import Look, SRAM and Met helmets.
“The Looks are one of the best frames you can ride – they have a long history.
“With the Zipp wheels and Continental tyres, it would be hard for us to be better equipped.”
What are the team’s sporting goals?
“To be a credible and successful UK race team; the Med, Haut Var and Murcia are to get them in shape.
“Having said that, we’ll be riding more in Europe, hopefully including some French Cups.”
Are you happy with the Med and Haut Var performances?
“Yes, but we really did have all our bad luck at once in Haut Var – James McCallum’s lucky to be alive after the crash he had!
“Whilst Jack had food poisoning, jet lag and ended up in hospital!
“But we did the race miles, were drawn out, had new experiences – judge us later, on the UK race results.”
Evan and Ross are waxing lyrical about their clothing – that must be satisfying?
“This year we’re doing all the stuff we said we’d do last year – individually numbered kit, trying different fabrics, having the riders fill in feedback questionnaires.
“It looks good and it’s very recognisable – it was easy to pick out the guys in the bunch from the car at Haut Var.
“The riders like it and I think we can compete with the likes of Assos and Castelli – we offer functionality and value for money.”
Have you had any feedback from Endura dealers about the team’s exploits?
“Yes, it’s working already, our account managers have been getting unprompted feedback from places like Steels and Ribble.
“There’s been a lot of activity on the forums, too – positive on the whole.”
Jack Bauer, a VeloVeritas ‘discovery’ – we think you’ve won a watch.
“He’s a huge talent, a good team player, has a huge engine and he’s a nice guy.
“We’ll give him all the support we can and hope that we can hold on to him for 2011.”
Another watch with Alex Blain!
“Yes, he’s very well known and very popular.
“Like Jack, he’s a nice guy, it was a relief to see that we’ve no ‘divas’ on the team.
“Alex is from Aix and it was strange to see ‘Endura’ written on the roads.
“He’s very well connected and has been instrumental in getting us into French Cups – The Tour of Finistere and Tro Bro Leon.”
Have the UCI and BC been OK?
“All of that side sailed along, smoothly.
“There have been no issues but we haven’t asked anyone for any favours, either.”
Pro Continental in the future?
“It’s something we might think about – but let’s wait until we get this season in.
“A thing you soon notice when you race at this level is that even the Continental teams are well funded.”
2010 will be a success for Jim McFarlane, if…
“We’re recognised at the end of it as being a credible contender on the UK race scene.”
With thanks to Jim for his time – and my jersey; I must get some weight off and I’ll need to buy a pair of those Equipe shorts!
Murcia has gone a lot more smoothly for Equipe Endura – we’ll be talking to our boy Evan and also new boy James Moss, about their experiences, on Monday.