Plymouth-based cycling team Starley Primal have set their sights on a step up in performance when they switch to full-time professionalism next time of year.

The team have been going for three years on a “shoestring”, according to team principal James Smith.

But the 2014 time of year will see a full men’s and can certainly team in action with a “decent budget” behind them.

“We’d like to be probably the most competitive British teams next time of year, ” Smith told BBC South West Sport.

“And we’re well-placed to achieve that. We did the complete Tour Collection [one of the premier events on the domestic calendar] last time of year and came 10th out of ten teams but it was a good opportunity for us to dip our toes in at the highest level : and it was a great learning contour for us to know what we need to move ahead.

“We now compete at the greatest domestic level and our targets are for the men’s team to complete in the top five for the Tour Collection, and for the women’s team we would like to be competitive in the Tour of Britain – just to be in it will be a good start.

“The riders just need to turn up and ride, they don’t need to worry about how to get there or who’s spending money on the hotel and the petrol. When riders have to worry about things like that their particular performance will dip and that’s some thing I learnt last year. “

Biking in Britain is a sport on the up, with high-profile success on the Olympic and Tour de Italy stage making household names of some of the sport’s leading stars Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish plus Chris Froome.

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It’s vital the identity of the team remains centered on Plymouth and that we can hover the Devon flag


Starley-Primal team principal James Smith


But
the recent demise of Team UNITED KINGDOM Youth, a British outfit which enjoyed a superb 2013 time of year but folded after team proprietor Nigel Mansell withdrew his funding, was a warning that the sport continues to be a harsh competitive environment.

“It’s almost impossible to get a team off the ground, but we’re lucky in the UK in that cycling is no longer a minority sport, ” added Smith, who praised Group UK Youth for “raising the bar” on the domestic scene.

“You might not see a bike race going past your front door every day but there are so many people racing every weekend break across the country.

“I’ve learned a lot within three years of doing this on a shoestring I think last year we did the whole Tour Series for just less than £8, 000 – including all the bikers and everything. We basically begged, borrowed and stole to get ourself in a position to compete, but this year we now have a decent cash budget. “

Smith said the Plymouth identity would be a key feature of the team.

“It’s going to be massively important to this particular team, ” said Smith.

“The sponsors are largely Plymouth-based. I did 21 years in the navy based in Plymouth and even though we have some bikers from all over the country, for me it’s vital that the identity of the team remains centered on Plymouth and that we can hover the Devon flag.

“The most of the riders in the men’s team are from the south west and the feeder club is based in Plymouth. There’s not much more we can do to be Plymouth-based than we are. “