Team UK Youth: Chris Opie saddened by team's demise

By Phil HarlowBBC South West Sport
Chris Opie

Cornish cyclist Chris Opie has signed for Rapha Condor after accepting that Team UK Youth will not be able to continue next season.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Nigel Mansell funded the team for four years but decided to end his financial support.

Mansell and other members of the team set out to find a new sponsor but have so far failed to find backers.

"Unfortunately it's gone - it's pretty heart wrenching to leave," Opie told BBC Radio Cornwall.

The team had set themselves a deadline of the end of October before finally giving up on continuing on from their hugely successful 2013 season.

But with Opie following Jon Mould and Joshua Hunt in securing rides elsewhere next season and members of staff also seeking alternative employment, the team is almost certainly set to disband.

"We found out a couple of weeks ago that it was pretty unlikely to go ahead into 2014 and beyond," added Opie.

"As each day ticked by there was less and less chance of a new team. There have been no new sponsors that have fulfilled the commitments they need to make to continue with the team.

"It's like leaving your family or your best friends. When you spend four years speaking to people almost daily, it's a huge thing to miss and a huge shame.

"The staff have been hit the hardest because it will be harder for them to find a job. In the cycling world most teams have already got the staff in place and that makes it a lot more difficult."

But for Opie there has been a happy ending, with a new contract safely secured with long-established British cycling team Rapha Condor.

"It's fantastic news - it's always been the big team in the UK, the team that as a young rider you think of as the most established and most prestigious team to ride for," he said.

Team UK Youth
Team UK Youth enjoyed a successful 2013 season

"I'm really forging my own path now. Everything I've learnt I can put into practice and enjoy a new direction in a different team with more experienced individuals, who have done things longer than I have. It's a really good opportunity."

Opie enjoyed a successful 2013 season, with wins in Tour Series and Premier Calendar events, and a narrow defeat by sprint superstar Mark Cavendish in the high-profile final stage of the Tour of Britain in London.

"To finish just behind Cav, the fastest sprinter in history, helped," he added.

"It was my goal to win a stage in the Tour of Britain. I had high hopes for the first stage but sadly that finished in a ditch. It took most of the week to recover, but just showing you're resilient and that you can still finish with three top-10s at the end of the week is pretty special."

Opie said this season had been something of a breakthrough for him, not least because of improved self-belief and intensity of training.

"There are times when you just have to get on and do the training," he said.

"No matter how hard it is you just dig deep and I think I learned that a lot this year. You can push yourself a lot harder than you realise."

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