THE ORANGE AND BLUE PHOENIX RISES IN YORKSHIRE
Holdsworth is a familiar name in the retro bike world. Originally branded W. F. Holdsworth the first three Holdsworth frames were made between 1930 and 1933 by the marque’s creator, Sandy Holdsworth in his bike shop in Putney in south-west London. Sandy’s business grew, and with it the Holdsworth name on whole range of frames and complete bikes, many of which are the joy of collectors today.
Holdsworth always had a cycle racing pedigree, and under the brand’s next owner, Roy Thame, a professional cycling team was launched in 1969. Holdsworth-Campagnolo became one of the most successful teams in British racing, with riders like Colin Lewis, Les West and Keith Lambert winning national titles and competing with distinction abroad.
"HOLDSWORTH-CAMPAGNOLO RACED SUCCESSFULLY UNTIL THE END OF 1978, BUT NOW, FORTY YEARS LATER, HOLDSWORTH HAS RETURNED TO THE PROFESSIONAL PELOTON, THE BIKE BRAND HAVING BEEN REVIVED BY SOUTH YORKSHIRE ENTREPRENEUR DAVE LOUGHRAN IN 2015."
Today’s Holdsworth team is a 13-man UCI continental professional squad called Holdsworth Pro Racing. It’s led by former World Tour rider and British road race champion Russell Downing from Rotherham. The team is based in South Yorkshire, Russell Downing’s brother Dean Downing is the team’s directeur sportif and performance coach. Jake Womersley, grandson of Yorkshire cycling icon Brian Robinson, the first British winner of a stage in the Tour de France, is another team member.
The other rest of the team is Seid Lidze and Mattia Viel from Italy; Ireland’s Dermot Trulock, the 2015 Irish road race champion Damien Shaw, Sean McKenna, Brian McCrystal and Conn McDunphy; Tom and Leon Mazzone from the Isle of Man, Australian world team pursuit champion Nick Yallouris, and Germany’s Bjorn Thurau.
"NUMBER ONE AIM FOR HOLDSWORTH PRO RACING IN ITS FIRST YEAR WAS PARTICIPATION IN THE TOUR DE YORKSHIRE. IT WASN’T EASY, THE TEAM WAS ONLY AN IDEA AT THE END OF 2017 AND CREATING A UCI TEAM FROM SCRATCH, WITH LITTLE EXPERIENCE, IN A MATTER OF WEEKS IS NOT EASY. BUT OBJECTIVE ONE WAS TICKED OFF, AND THREE OF THE TEAM SIX STARTERS MADE IT TO THE TOUR DE YORKSHIRE FINISH IN LEEDS, EARNING THE RESPECT OF ALL IN THE RACE."
It was a baptism of fire, but what doesn’t break you makes you stronger and Holdsworth riders are winning now, the most recent success being Sean McKenna stage six victory in Ireland’s ultra-competitive Ras Tailteann stage race. More international races are planned this year, including the Tour of Quinghai Lake in China, and the Tour of Hungary.
As well as racing the team helps to develop Holdsworth bikes and other products, including Carnac shoes and helmets, but for the man behind the brand, Dave Loughran, product development and racing success, although beneficial, are not his chief motivation.“When I look back at my time in the bike trade it’s not the business milestones I remember, it’s not making money or passing sales targets; it’s the teams and individual riders we’ve sponsored, the successes they’ve had, and how many of those riders are still friends and even work for me now. That’s what I look back on, and why I’m looking forward to seeing where Holdsworth Pro Racing will go. Whether it’s riding the Tour de France or winning the Cuckney 10, I’m not interested in the outcome, it’s the process and the people I’m interested in. That’s what motivates me, and that’s why I’m so excited about this team,” he says.
Holdsworth Pro Racing photography - Chris Sidwells c/o Cycling Legends