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On the right track: Durata UK supporting success in UK track cycling

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Data Centre critical infrastructure installation and elite track cycling share a lot in common, as can be seen in the relationship between Durata UK and Huub Wattbike.

Huub Wattbike, it says on their website, is an Independent British UCI track team, which started life as four ambitious riders from Derby with the desire to compete on the world stage. After a breakthrough season where they won World Championships, a World Cup, Commonwealth Games medals and National Titles, they’re now bigger and hungrier for success than ever.

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Dan Bigham, Jonny Wale, Ashton Lambie and John Archibald as Huub Wattbike collect gold in the Team Pursuit during UCI Track Cycling World Cup in London

The Team are renowned for not being your conventional track cycling squad. In fact, questioning the regimented approaches taken by Team GB and other national teams, Huub Wattbike have shown that with an open mind, innovation, technology and some marginal gains there’s more than one way to go fast and enjoy success on the boards at the top of world cycling.

A little over a year ago, Durata UK managing director, John McGee came into contact with emerging cycling stars, brothers Harry and Charlie Tanfield. At that time, Harry had created headlines by being the first (and so far, the only) British cyclist to win a stage of the Tour de Yorkshire, as well as racing and winning in the televised Tour Series, UK city-centre criterium races, for the Canyon Eisberg Team.

Meanwhile Charlie was building his own reputation winning gold medals at the UCI World Championships and 2018 Commonwealth Games. He was also one of the original group of four friends which set up Team KGF. None of this was news to McGee, who had known and ridden with the lads’ father, and had been following their progress in the newspapers and on social media for some time.

John McGee founded Durata UK in 2013. With 25 years’ experience working in mission critical industries and data centres, he brings together engineering skills with a special kind of business management.

Durata is headquartered in the North East of England and provides a range of data centre mechanical and electrical installation and maintenance services on behalf of some of the world’s most successful infrastructure manufacturers.

John, Harry and Charlie immediately hit it off when they accidentally met at a Middlesbrough football fixture at the Riverside Stadium, “Not only did we have great personal chemistry, I felt there were enormous synergies between what they were doing as a racing team and what we were trying to do as a business at Durata. We’re all about attention to detail and making the best use of every resource without being shackled by traditional ‘this is how it’s always been done’ thinking,” said McGee.

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Celebrating success in London. Jonny Wale (centre) with John McGee, MD of Durata UK (left) and Damien Wells of Spa Communications (right). Huub Wattbike repeated the winning feat a week later in Switzerland, beating Team GB.

After a later meeting with team principal Dan Bigham, together with founder members Jonny Wale, Jacob Tipper and Harry Tanfield at their training base in Derby, John quickly agreed to become a head sponsor and the relationship began to grow. Towards the end of 2018, Team KGF was relaunched as Huub Wattbike Test Team with new title sponsors.

Charlie has since joined Team GB, making way for elder brother Harry Tanfield, although both have been away at training camps for next years’ pro tour road cycling calendar. Meanwhile the team has enlisted the strengths of John Archibald (brother of Team GB women’s pursuit specialist and gold medal winner Katie Archibald) and most recently, Ashton Lambie – current holder of the Individual Pursuit world record and owner of the most impressive facial hair in track racing.

On the evening of the 14th December, during the fourth event in the UCI Track Cycling World Cup series, the Huub Wattbike Test Team thrilled the London crowd with a stunning performance to take the gold medal in the men’s pursuit event. It was a performance which delighted the partisan audience, roaring them home against the Belgian national team over the last kilometer.

It was also a special victory for those with real insight and inside knowledge of track cycling. The event was broadcast on the BBC and commentated upon by team enthusiast, Chris Boardman. “Imagine how fast Huub Wattbike could go,” he said, “without Ashton Lambie’s moustache…”

It was a special moment for John McGee too. “It’s not just seeing your logo on Dan Bigham with the Gold Medal winner caption beneath,” he said, “it’s knowing that you’re a part of something unique. Right from the start, Dan, Jonny, Tipper, John, Ashton, Charlie and Harry have made us feel part of the family, part of the team and part of the success. It’s like you share in all that. Frankly, that’s more than money can buy.”

Dan Bigham said, “The support we get from sponsors like Durata makes our lives a lot easier. A great example is John taking personal responsibility for sorting out our accommodation at Lee Valley. We have a lot in common with Durata, too.

“We’re both punching above our weight and challenging the status quo. We want to do things correctly, like they should be done. We do what we say we’re going to do; it’s the results that matter, everything else is irrelevant.”

At time of writing, Huub Wattbike have just returned from Switzerland where the team repeated its London success, winning gold in the Team Pursuit event this time beating Team GB in the final.

Meanwhile, in qualifying for the Men’s Individual Pursuit, John Archibald set the fastest time ever for the 4km distance at sea level. It would have been a World Record had that not already been set by Ashton Lambie. The team is now looking eagerly forward to 2019 and beyond.

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