Cycling fans might find it odd that ONE PRO Cycling is collaborating with a car company. To find out how this partnership has come about and why it makes perfect sense for both sides, we talked to former England Cricketer and owner of ONE PRO Cycling, Matt Prior.
After three years in the cycling world, Prior explains that the sport is not just experiencing huge growth, but growth in a specific demographic. “There’s been the clichéd saying for a while now ‘cycling’s the new golf’, but actually it is. The demographic that used to play golf or maybe still play golf but not as regularly are now spending fortunes on bikes. And that tends to be the same person that would buy a high-end car or a prestige watch.”
At the same time as ONE PRO Cycling was starting to focus its attention on premium brands to team up with, so Aston Martin was arriving at the same truths about cycling from the opposite direction. So how does it feel to join Aston Martin’s exclusive club of partners, one that includes TAG Heuer and the Red Bull F1 team? “It’s quite surreal, to be honest,” Prior admits. “I have had to pinch myself a couple of times.”
The partnership has allowed Aston Martin to emphasise its association with the high-tech German brand Storck. As a result, the team switched bicycles for 2018, moving to the Aston Martin-branded Storck carbon fibre frames. For time trials, ONE PRO will use the Storck Aero 2 frameset, kitted out with Shimano Dura-Ace drivetrain components. This is something of a coup, as the award-winning bicycle company has never granted use of its products by a professional team before. The team is racing mainly in the UK this year, but its biggest targets, the Tour de Yorkshire and Tour of Britain, will see it competing against World Tour teams such as Team Sky and Dimension Data. If you watch either of those races then the ONE PRO riders will be easy to spot thanks to the striking asymmetrical look of their Nalini kit, which the design department at Aston Martin’s HQ in Gaydon, Warwickshire, helped draw up.
On the subject of appealing to the sport’s fans, Prior believes that cycling needs to have far greater transparency and accessibility, so that cameras can follow the riders anywhere, even on to the team buses. Most importantly, Prior stresses that his is not a win-at-all-costs team. “At no point has Aston Martin said, ‘you need to win this number of races’. This is about turning this team into the coolest team in the world. And that’s not about winning a bike race, that’s about changing the sport, doing it right and creating a team that is aspirational.”
Looking to 2019, Prior wants the team to step up to Pro Continental level (just below the top World Tour echelon), but also has an arguably even bigger aim. “I am looking at launching a ONE PRO Cycling women’s team in 2019,” he says. “You look in the UK right now — where is all the positivity in sport? It’s all in women’s sport.” He would want consistency across both teams in terms of collaborators. “If the men are racing on a Storck Aston Martin bike then we would want the women on the same bike. It would be the first time a British team has done it and I think that is exciting for everyone involved,” enthuses Prior, rather neatly summing up one trait that Aston Martin and ONE PRO Cycling clearly have in common: ambition. oneprocycling.com