Top cycling professional joins Shropshire racing team

An elite British cyclist, who rode for UCI teams ‘Team Wiggins’ and ‘Madison Genesis’, has joined a Shropshire based amateur cycling team having recently retired after 10 years as a professional.

Brothers Tom Pook and Chris Pook, who both rider for Rhino Velo, with former UCI professional Liam Holohan
Brothers Tom Pook and Chris Pook, who both rider for Rhino Velo, with former UCI professional Liam Holohan

Liam Holohan, a former UCI professional, who now runs his own coaching business called Holohan Coaching, is going to race for Rhino Velo Race Team in 2018, run by Shropshire business men Chris Pook and Ben Lawrence.

His role on the team will include coaching a number of the riders, as well as supporting the team during races to try and help the amateur riders get the best from themselves.

He said: “Since becoming a father, the life of a professional cyclist, always being away, wasn’t going to work for me.”

“I had set up my coaching business, Holohan Coaching, in the final years of my professional career and now want to focus on building that. I have coached Chris for a few years and he really bought into the program and has had some notable successes over the past couple of years. When he heard I wasn’t going to race as a professional anymore, he asked me if I would be more involved with the team; it’s a role I really thrive in.”

Mr Holohan acted as ‘Directeur Sportif’ for the team towards the end of last season at the Vuelta Majorca, which saw Mr Pook take the opening stage and yellow jersey and Matthew Garthwaite finish 2nd overall. He also acted as ‘Road Captain’ for a National B Stage Race in Scotland last September that saw Mr Pook win stage two and Matthew Garthwaite, one of the teams leading riders, finish second on stage three and second overall.

He said: “It was so rewarding to work with these guys and be a part of their success “It meant it was an easy decision to do more with the team in 2018.”

Mr Holohan said he thinks the team will continue to see big successes in amateur races this season.

In terms of the longer term future he said: “I think the under 23 development side of things has sparked my interest along with women’s cycling. I’ve ridden for a lot of professional teams that make the claim to be “development” but having ridden for them I have seen very little evidence of this. I think it could be done a lot better.

The same with the women’s side of the sport. It’s very much overlooked and underfunded. These are just ideas at the moment but it’s certainly something that’s being seriously considered and under discussion with Chris & Ben.”

Mr Lawrence, of Shrewsbury based independent insurer broker Beaumont Lawrence, said it is great for Rhino Velo Race Team to welcome Mr Holohan on board.

He said: “Our cycling team is definitely taking a step up this year with Liam joining our ranks. He will bring a different level of professionalism to the team as an elite British cyclist and someone who spent 10 years racing all over the world at a high level. He is 30 years of age now and settled with his wife and son in Shrewsbury a few years ago, having originally hailed from Yorkshire. Very few amateur teams get to benefit from the first hand experience of a recently retired professional, especially one who has a natural gift for coaching.”

Mr Holohan has trained Mr Pook, Director of estate agents Cooper Green Pooks, for the past few years.

Mr Pook said: “Liam has made me realise the graft required in training to realise your potential in races. He believes in me and thinks there is more to come and that gives me confidence and drive to get the training done, so I can be competitive when I race. Racing is so nuanced and you finally start to understand why some refer to it as ‘chess on wheels’. With Liam’s guiding hand and lots of hard work I was able to win six times last year and so I have high hopes for 2018 after having had a decent winter.”

Mr Pook now trains 10-12 hours a week whilst running a successful business and also being a husband to Heidi and a father to two young girls, who both love dashing about on their bikes and scooters.

He said: “Rhino Velo Race Team’s aim this year is to offer our riders an opportunity to take on more interesting races and so we have an exciting programme that sees riders competing in Ireland, Sardinia, France, Majorca and of course the UK.”

Mr Pook said cycling continues to be an extremely popular sport.

He said: “We are looking forward to a successful year with some real quality in our ranks. We believe we will be a team well worth following.”

The team is currently training in the Pyrenees, France, where Shropshire cycling legend and team co-founder Mike Jones, has a cycling holiday business called ‘Rhino Velo Pyrenees’ that welcomes cyclists of all abilities.

Mr Holohan added: “This is a pre season camp, so we’ll be working on more race specific training. This will involve race drills, aimed at targeting specific adaptations for the races we have coming up. It’s rare that a good number of the lads will all be in one place like this, so it’s a great opportunity for the guys to learn from me about everything that goes in to off the bike recovery and nutrition.”

Rhino Velo is sponsored in 2018 by Cooper Green Pooks, Doppio Protection, Beaumont Lawrence, Holohan Coaching and Rhino Velo Pyrenees.