With the start of the unique, team based Pearl Izumi Tour Series just one-week away, we’re taking a look at the riders to watch.

Britain’s ten leading teams will be racing at every round of The Pearl Izumi Tour Series, battling it out for the right to be crowned Champions of the Series and the best team in the UK.

Former Champions Node4 Giordana Racing and Rapha Condor JLT are among the line-up, but if you’re new to the sport, have never been to The Pearl Izumi Tour Series before or just need to catch-up on who is riding for who in 2013, we’ve produced a guide picking out one to watch from each squad.

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Dean Downing wins in Exeter in 2009…and we're still not sure about the celebration!

Madison Genesis – Dean Downing
Dean Downing is The Pearl Izumi Tour Series’ most successful individual rider, with five victories to his name since the Series began in 2009. Dean didn’t win a round in 2012, but having joined the new-for-2013 Madison Genesis team he’ll be looking to put that right in 2013.

The 38-year-old from Rotherham in Yorkshire has represented Great Britain on the track and has multiple British titles to his name, with the action packed racing of ‘Tour Series-style’ criteriums definitely his speciality.

The elder brother of Team NetApp Endura pro Russell Downing, Dean was a member of Pearl Izumi Tour Series Champions Rapha Condor Sharp in 2011.

Metaltek – Knights of Old  – Tom Murray
Tom Murray, known by his nickname of ‘Minty’, joins Metaltek – Knights of Old for 2013 and will be looking to at last claim some circuit race honours in 2013.

Murray has been third overall in both the National Circuit Race Championships and the Elite Circuit Race Series, and taken numerous placings in Pearl Izumi Tour Series rounds, but never the number one spot.

Joining Tom on the team will be Kit Gilham, who has already won a stage of the Tour of Algeria this Spring, and a host of young, up-and-coming riders.

MG Maxifuel – Magnus Backstedt
The new-look MG Maxifuel team will be led by former Tour de France stage winner Magnus Backstedt their man to watch.

Backstedt took the honours in the 1998 stage of the Tour to Autun, going on to also win the prestigious Paris Roubaix one-day classic in 2004, where amongst the riders he beat was Roger Hammond, now Team Manager of Pearl Izumi Tour Series rivals Madison Genesis.

Alongside Backstedt look out for David Lines, who combines racing with working as a fireman in Edinburgh, and will be making his return to The Pearl Izumi Tour Series.

Node4 – Giordana Racing – Steve Lampier
Cornishman Steve Lampier has been one of the stars of recent seasons in The Pearl Izumi Tour Series, winning the then Boardman Bikes Sprints Jersey in 2011.

The yellow Sprints jersey was at the forefront of the action throughout the 2011 Series on Steve’s shoulders. His 2012 Tour Series campaign was disrupted by illness so the popular Peterborough-based rider is sure to want to bounce back this year.

Lampier now rides for the Node4 – Giordana team, themselves Champions in the 2010 Series.

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Steve Lampier on the front in Woking in 2011, in the ten Sprints Jersey

Rapha Condor JLT – Ed Clancy
The biggest name in The Pearl Izumi Tour Series, Ed Clancy is a five-time World Champion on the track, plus a double Olympic Champion with Gold medals from the 2008 Bejing and 2012 London Olympics.

Added to that impressive haul is an Olympic Bronze, also from London, plus a trio of European track titles. The Yorkshire rider has an impressive palmares on the road too, he was a member of winning team in The Pearl Izumi Tour Series in 2009, 2010 and 2011, with three individual round wins to his name too.

In 2013 Ed remains with the Rapha Condor JLT team, where teammates include Tour of Britain SKODA King of the Mountains winner Kristian House.

Spin Rotor – Primal – C-Originals – George Pym
The second of The Pearl Izumi Tour Series debutants, Spin Rotor – Primal – C-Originals have youngster George Pym among their squad.

In 2009 George was in his hometown of Exeter to watch The Pearl Izumi Tour Series. Captivated by the action and excitement of the racing, he joined his local cycling club and four years on finds himself lining up alongside many of the stars of the 2009 Series.

19-year-old Pym kicked off the year by finishing fifth at the indoor IG London Nocturne in January, one place ahead of Dean Downing, the winner of Exeter’s Pearl Izumi Tour Series round in 2009!

Team Hope Factory Racing – Ben Greenwood
Former British Under-23 National Champion and a former British Hill Climb Champion, Ben Greenwood joins Team Hope for 2013, where amongst others he’ll be partnered with multiple cyclo-cross champion Paul Oldham.

Greenwood is an excellent road racer, best suited to tougher circuits and climbs, as his hill climb title and second place, behind future Tour de France winner Andy Schleck, in the King of the Mountains competition at the 2006 Tour of Britain show.

Team IG – Sigma Sport – Ross Edgar
Commonwealth Champion Ross Edgar makes the switch from the velodrome to the road in 2013, joining IG – Sigma Sport for his first taste of The Pearl Izumi Tour Series.

On the track the Scottish rider won a Silver medal in the Keirin at the 2008 Olympics and has a string of World Championship medals to his name too. Now the Suffolk born rider is making The Pearl Izumi Tour Series one of his big aims for 2013 and will hope to emulate fellow track star Theo Bos who successfully made the jump a few years ago.

Alongside Ross, look out for The Tour of Britain’s 2012 Yodel Sprints Jersey winner Peter Williams, who is also new to the team for this season.

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A controversial first win for Graham Briggs in 2009, after Rob Hayles was relegated by the judges

Team Raleigh – Graham Briggs
Another former Pearl Izumi Tour Series Champion, Graham Briggs was on Rapha Condor Sharp’s winning squad in 2011. The Doncaster rider has also won three individual rounds of the Series, including the first ever event, at Milton Keynes in May 2009.

The sprinter is definitely a criterium specialist, having been the 2011 British Circuit Race Champion, entitling him to wear the red, white and blue striped jersey during last year’s Series.

Raleigh also boast another individual Pearl Izumi Tour Series round winner in Alex Blain, plus riders from Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Team UK Youth – Yanto Barker
Welsh International and former British Junior Road Race Champion Yanto Barker will be leading the way with Team UK Youth, especially as the squad ride in kit made by Barker’s own Le Col clothing label!

A professional since 2000, Yanto is a top ten finisher from the 2005 Tour of Britain and in recent years has both ridden the race and covered it for ITV4! An excellent all-arounder the Welshman can often be seen on the attack in The Pearl Izumi Tour Series.

Don’t forget to also look out for Swedish rider Niklas Gustavsson, an individual winner in Redditch last year, who remains with Team UK Youth.

You can check out the Teams section to find out more about all of the squads, plus the Guest teams.
 

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Yanto Barker on the Canary Wharf podium in 2012