DREAM BUILD EMTB - Vitus E-Sommet - Rob Warner

I guess most folks would think that Rob Warner already has his dream bike, if not several. Well, just in case there was any doubt, he has now and here's the evidence thanks to Gee Milner https://youtu.be/Qe-QwHUXkfg Words: Tim Ward - Schwalbe UK | Images and video: Gee Milner

Vitus Pro Cycling

In the years since the team was first established in 2010, back when it was operating under the name Team Raleigh, it has evolved to become a powerhouse within men’s road cycling. Now racing under the more widely known team name of Vitus Pro Cycling powered by Brother UK, we caught up with three of their riders to see how they’ve adjusted to the temporary-normality that the world finds themselves in today.

Vitus Pro Cycling team getting ready to race.
Getting ready to race

Vitus Pro Cycling team car ready to head out with riders on a race.
Team car ready to roll

Joey Walker

Born into a passionate cycling household, Joey Walker has followed in his family’s footsteps by taking his place between the race tape. “Growing up I was always surrounded by cycling. My mum used to race and my Dad was a Professional. He won the Milk Race (before it was named the Tour of Britain) and the National Crit Champs twice.” shares Joey, “at the age of around 11, I watched the Lincoln GP in person and was amazed. Russ Downing won who is a close family friend. That was the start, I turned to my dad and said: “I want to race this when I’m older”. Not long after that, my dad got me my first road bike. I’ve not looked back since.”

Vitesse Evo Team Edition team bike
Joey Walker's Vitus Vitesse Evo Team Edition team bike.

Currently residing in Doncaster with his partner, Louisa, and new family member, Ralphie, the wire-haired Dachshund, Joey has decided to back off from hard training. “At the moment, I’m doing about 12hr weeks on the bike with a mix of Zwift and road rides. On a typical day, I will wake up naturally with no alarm and have breakfast. Two hours after that, I will get the day’s training done with a meal straight after. Followed by me and my girlfriend taking our new puppy for a walk, before relaxing until my evening meal and then bed.”

And just because the current global health crisis has resulted in either cancelled or postponed events, Joey assures that the Vitus team are keeping their spirits up together. “We have a big group chat on WhatsApp where we all keep in touch. Everyone is healthy at the moment which is the main thing. We also have a ‘Virtual Club Run’ on Zwift, every Friday morning, which Tom Mazzone organises. This is a great way to ride with the team, have banter and get some KM’s in the bank.”

Dan Tulett

Another follower in his father’s footsteps is fellow Vitus team rider, Dan Tulett. After spending his childhood attending his father’s midweek crits and winter cyclocross races, Dan reflects: “As we both grew older, we began to take it more and more seriously. I took a slightly different path to my brother and joined the Great Britain cycling team’s development programmes for mountain biking. Then in 2018, after about 5 years, I decided to switch my focus to cyclocross and road, and finally focus 100% on the road with Vitus Pro Cycling for 2020. I do still ride my MTB as I really love the freedom and it’s a bit more interesting than road riding for me.”

At his family home in the South East of England, Dan’s been keeping busy the past few months by cracking on with DIY projects, and, of course, training. “My training through this lockdown period has been a bit different to normal. It is far more relaxed and aimed at maintaining fitness instead of trying to gain, just in case the end of the season is dragged out a little. Away from the bike I have quite a lot of hobbies and interests to keep me occupied. Most of the time I can be found rolling around on the floor messing with my car.”

With social media messaging platforms and the likes of Zwift keeping the Vitus team in contact and together, Dan confesses to speaking with teammates over a healthy session of playing Call of Duty, “It seems to have become a bit of a routine over this lockdown period; 8 pm squad up with Joey walker and Joe Sutton.”

Stephen Bradbury

After some forced time off from swimming as a youngster, Stephen Bradbury stumbled into cycling after looking for something new to fill his time. Little did he know at the time that this happy accident would end up as a career pursuit, as Stephen explains, “I always wanted to pursue cycling since I started racing the national kids’ leagues. I just really enjoy it and why wouldn’t you try and do something you enjoy as a career?”

Vitus Vitesse Evo Team Edition team bike.
Joey Walker's Vitus Vitesse Evo Team Edition team bike.

At home in Derby with his partner, Kelly, Stephen has been trying to keep life as normal as possible. “Naturally, it’s hard to train completely when no one knows how long it will be before racing will kick off again. My Coach and I agreed that for a few weeks at least I should just ride my bike, and just enjoy it. I’m also studying for a degree with the Open University, so I’m still having to put time into that, which is keeping me busy. Normally, I will sit down and do this after lunch and training in the afternoon.” The current health crisis has made an impact on our mental health, especially being unable to see loved ones. To help keep his spirits up, Stephen explains “I think it’s important to keep socially active and technology is great for that. Whether it’s a quick call to my family at home or face-time with friends”... “Tom Mazzone has set up a group ride that happens on Fridays. It’s great as everyone can ride together, regardless of ability and no one gets dropped.”

When it comes to race bikes for 2020, Vitus Pro Cycling is riding the new Vitus Vitesse Evo Team Edition. “The bike is light but stiff, which makes it a pleasure to ride. The groupset is the new SRAM 12-speed with prime components. Most importantly, Schwalbe Pro One tires to finish the bike off. On my training bike, I prefer to use the 28mm tires for a more comfortable ride, compared to my race bike where I run 25mm for a more aggressive race feel. The tires are brilliant, fast in a straight line but crank it in a corner and they stick to the tarmac,” shares Joey. For Stephen, it’s his first time riding tubeless after years on tubulars, and “I’m looking forward to seeing how it can benefit me, for example being able to run lower pressures for wet criteriums.” It’ll also be a first-time for Dan who has never ridden with disc brakes before, “I’m really impressed, the stopping time is far quicker than traditional rim brakes and it actually makes me feel a lot safer out on the roads. For tyre pressures, I tend to run quite low, but this is very weather and terrain dependent. For a dry crit, for example, I would tend to use maybe 70-90psi as they are a very grippy tyre combined with how well a tubeless tyre holds the rim. For a road race, I would use maybe 85-100psi.”

Vitus Pro Cycling team bikes racked up and ready to race.
Racked up and ready to race

At a time of uncertainty, where races and events are still hanging in the balance of politics and safety, it’s inspiring to see comradery amongst athletes. Supporting one another through Zwift rides and cementing their team bond through Call of Duty and other similar shared interests, it would appear that the Vitus Pro Cycling team are more than making up for the lack of racing with support, encouragement and team bonding.

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Words: Jess Strange - Velo Me | Images: CPRacing