Madison Genesis were the latest British UCI Continental team to officially launch to the trade and media last week, and Brendan Gallagher caught up with team manager and Tour of Britain stage winner Roger Hammond.

YOU must never keep a good man down which is why DS Roger Hammond would be delighted to lose a couple of his 2015 squad at Madison Genesis at the end of the season to a World Tour team. In fact it’s the team's raison d’etre.

"We need to never lose sight of why this team exists and that is develop domestic talent and give them springboard for something even better," says Hammond whose squad won four team prizes in the ten Pearl Izumi Tour Series rounds last season.

"It’s a slightly different concept we have here because although we always want to win and strengthen the squad what we want more than anything is for one of our guys to break through to the next level. My job is to try and make sure we lose as many riders as possible to World Tour teams!”

Part of that process – the Genesis part of the team title if you like – is to seek out a large variety of quality races and Hammond is delighted this year that he has been able to add the prestigious and always tough Tour of Normandie at the end of March to the other top drawer stage races they compete in during the year, hopefully culminating with the Friends Life Tour of Britain in September.
"""I worked really hard to get that invite," smiles Hammond.  "I think I counted a total of 92 emails to the organisers one way or another pleading and arguing our case, sending them footage and YouTube links to recent wins etc. I am really pleased that we made the cut though because there is huge competition for a place and its recognition if you like that we have been notice. Emails have never been my strong point and I've lost what little hair I had left over this one.
"Anyway finally we have got the invite and in one way that seems a victory in its own right but actually it’s just the start. Now our team, whoever gets picks, have to get themselves right physically and mentally to really compete in that race and make an impact. 

"Win a good stage at the Tour of Normandie, or animate two or three breaks, and the big teams will start to notice you. And that’s exactly what I want. There will be six stages, all of them tough, there will probably be wind and rain and there has even be snow this time of year. It's early in the season and good results early in the season tend to get noticed. This is a chance for our guys to put their hands up, as is the Tour of Britain later in the year."

A couple of Hammond's riders have ‘previous’ at Normandie while with other teams. Erick Rowsell, in his first appearance for Madison Genesis, will be returning to the 35th edition of the race in which he won a stage in 2012 and also finished 7th on GC. Tom Scully also returns to the race where he won the prologue, the opening time trial over 3.5km, in 2013.
Mention of the Friends Life Tour of Britain and Madison inevitably conjures up thoughts of Tom Stewart's involvement in the incredible three man break with Alex Dowsett and Matthias Brandle which ripped up the script on Stage Six of the Tour last year from Bath to Hemel Hempstead. That was the day that resulted in a stage win for Brandle, a Friends Life Yellow Jersey for Dowsett and a tantalising taste of the big time for Stewart and a chance to show his class and potential.
""It also saw Hammond live and breathe a race like he has rarely done since retiring. As the Madison DS he was obviously intimately concerned with keeping Stewart in the break but as man who knew the local roads like the back his hand he also appeared to take over as DS for the trio all of whom had everything to gain and nothing to lose from his expert advice.

"It was a win-win situation. I could see straightaway this was a break that could stick despite the fact that the yellow jersey was at stake because Alex had got into the breakaway. In Matthias and Alex you had two of the best time-trial riders of the modern generation, riders who can stay out there making the pace for a couple of hours while we as a team were hungry for something out of the race for Tom. 
"Initially I concentrated on helping Tom in the break which basically involved talking him up the climbs, which were short and sharp and came fairly thick and fast. I knew them well and when you are riding on the limit it can make all the difference if you know the gradient is definitely going to end in 200m and not 400m. It eases the pain just a little.

"So obviously I was doing that but the trio were out the front so long I started to talk to the other lads and hand them some bars and stuff. They rode brilliantly together, it was an exhilarating day, and the whole of that break was as close to actually riding a race since I retired.  
"""It was an important day for the team in a couple of ways. I like to think it was one the best stage of last year's Tour and as such was high profile and it was very good exposure for us although in fairness we hadn’t lacked for exposure in the season. The real bonus is what it does for the confidence and self-esteem for a rider like Tom. 
"He has been there at the sharp end now in one of the key stages of possibly the best Tour of Britain ever. He didn’t win but he was there or there about when it mattered riding with two big hitters and if ever he finds himself in that positon again he will know he can do it. 

"Equally his colleagues – who train or race with him every week and beat him on occasions – will know that if Tom can do it so can they. Why not? He’s not superman, he is Tom who trains hard and rides with them and has the same ambitions. A ride like that has a ripple effect and I am hoping to see some of the benefits this season.” 
""Hammond has been busy during the winter with seven new signings with the squad coming together early in September with a camp in Majorca which they timed to perfection, arriving just long enough for the roads to be cleared after a heavy fall of snow up in the northern mountains.  The sun was out and conditions ideal as Hammond took stock. 
"The 2014 racing season was a great success and I feel the transfer season was a continuation of that. I am really pleased the successful core of this year's team is returning again next year, ensuring we already had a very firm foundation with which to build the team.  
“With the variety of the new riders coming to the team, from National Junior champions through to international race winners, I couldn't have hoped for a better line up to go into battle with next year. It is going to be exciting. Majorca went really well, in fact we are heading back there now for a second camp to put the final touches to our preparations.”

Madison Genesis 2015 Team Line-up

Joe Evans: Evans won the National Junior Time Trial Champion in 2013 and the Isle of Man Junior Tour last year before medalling in both the Team Pursuit and Madison at the European Track Championships.

Liam Holohan: Starting his third year in the team. In 2014 Holohan won a stage of the UCI categorised An Post Rás in Ireland and took a very creditable eleventh place in the National Road Race.

Tobyn Horton: A consistent criterium rider winning both the Canary Wharf round of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series and the London Nocturne. Hampered a bit by illness last season, hoping for a clear run in 2015.

Martyn Irvine: A class performer on the road and track with a world scratch race title in Minsk in 2013 the standout performance on his palmares. Very strong criterium rider and versatile team member.

Dom Jelfs: Despite an injury plagued 2014, Jelfs finished a very useful sixth in the National Irish Road Race Championships. Now fully recovered he is looking for a big 2015

James McLaughlin: Enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2014 by finishing tenth in the Commonwealth Games Individual Time Trial when he was the highest placed non-world tour rider in that event. You can achieve great things with an engine like that.

Matt Holmes: Returns for his second year with the team, Matt more than earned his place with a very solid 2014 despite several setbacks early on, including being run over the day before his first international appearance with the team. 

Mark McNally: A former U23 European Track Champion, McNally is a tough versatile competitor whose highlight last year was probably winning the SKODA King of the Mountains classification at the 2014 Tour of Britain.

Mike Northey: Tough New Zealander who had proved one of the pillars of the team.  Equally effective in the Tour of Britain and criteriums, he won at Beverley last year and earned a podium spot at the Lincoln Grand Prix.

Tristan Robbins: Robbins won both the National Junior Road Race and Points Race last year and is a rider of exciting potential

Erick Rowsell: Canny rider who has a stage win at the Tour of Normandie on his palmares. Won both the Junior National Time Trial and Road Race (2007 and 2008)

Tom Scully: Another accomplished and powerful Kiwi who can win Sprints and provide the lead-outs, Scully enjoyed a fine 2014 season which also included a gold medal on the track at the Commonwealth Games in the Points Race.

Tom Stewart: Enjoyed a cracking 2014, winning won two rounds of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series, posting  a top ten in the National Road Race Championships and taking third place in that brilliant Stage Six at the Tour of Britain. 

Matt Cronshaw: Experienced and consistent Lancastrian who joins from Giordana having previously ridden with Team IG – Sigma Sport, Node4, Team Raleigh and Rapha Condor.