Am­bi­tious team sets sights high

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Factfile Www.kentonline.co.uk/sport -

Kent could have a team rid­ing in the Tour of Bri­tain by 2023.

That’s the hope of Paul Mor­ton, co-founder of the PMR@Toachim House team launched in 2011 to bring the county’s elite rid­ers to­gether.

The Tour has seen its pro­file rocket in re­cent years and Bradley Wig­gins will ride this year’s race in Septem­ber.

Sev­eral Bri­tish UCI Con­ti­nen­tal teams are hop­ing to join the line-up but so far, Kent is not rep­re­sented in the pelo­ton.

How­ever, Mor­ton wants to change that. Along­side his fa­ther Tom, he used to ride for the National Es­cort Group, the mo­tor­cy­clists who help with safety at cycling events, in­clud­ing the Tour de France, Olympic Games and Tour of Bri­tain.

He said: “We saw there wasn’t a South East-based team. Clubs (across Kent) had in­di­vid­ual good rid­ers but they didn’t have a team to ride with. My­self and my fa­ther took it upon our­selves to put to­gether a team.”

The team – which in­cludes rid­ers from Ash­ford, Herne Bay, Sit­ting­bourne and Thanet – was launched as PM R@cing, with national ju­nior road race cham­pion Pete John­son and moun­tain biker Billy When­man also among their ranks.

When­man has since been picked up by the pro­fes­sional Zan­nata Cycling Team in Bel­gium, a sign of the qual­ity PMR are bring­ing through. Mor­ton said: “We like to think of our­selves as a de­vel­op­ment team, bring­ing peo­ple on to big­ger and bet­ter things.”

The suc­cess sto­ries keep com­ing. Thanet’s Chris Fen­nell was the sec­ond­fastest ju­nior at the national time trial cham­pi­onships for PMR@Toachim House last month.

Te am bosses are de­ter­mined to break into the up­per ech­e­lons of the sport, how­ever, rather than con­tin­u­ally putting lo­cal rid­ers in the shop win­dow.

Mor­ton said: “Within 10 years, we want to get the team into the Tour of Bri­tain.

“That re­quires rid­ers and fi­nan­cial back­ing but if we get that, if we get the right struc­ture, we have the knowl­edge and the knowhow to build a team for that level.”

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