LEICESTER have kicked off their 2019 team-building – with the return of two familiar faces!
Multiple British Champion Scott Nicholls will spearhead the Watling JCB Lions’ Championship challenge next season whilst fast-rising youngster Connor Mountain, who became a club asset in September, is also a confirmed starter.
Nicholls spent the second half of 2018 with the Lions in the Premiership after the closure of Rye House, and also helped Peterborough top the Championship table before being struck by injury prior to the play-offs.
And new boss Stewart Dickson says the former Coventry, Ipswich and Belle Vue star is the ideal man to take the club into their exciting new era.
Dickson said: “Scott was the rider I wanted, and he’s really up for it. I made it clear to him that he was my target, and he was delighted to hear that from the outset.
“It wasn’t a case of it maybe being him or someone else, so we’re obviously really pleased to get it over the line.
“I’m very methodical in everything I do, and Scott had an 8.49 away average in the Championship last season, but only 7.84 at home. That’s why his overall average is slightly down on what you might expect.
“I don’t just pick a figure, I look at all kinds of things including bonus points which can give people a false average if they’re riding in a strong team with good pairings.
“To have an eight-and-a-half point average away from home is very impressive, and I know he rides Leicester a lot better than he rides Peterborough, so that’s why I went for him.
“But Scott brings other things as well. We know what he’s achieved in the sport, and he’ll be great for the youngsters. His general experience is another big reason to have him on board.
“I’ll be honest and say that whilst I’ve been working on the rest of the team, I’ve been consulting Scott because you’ve also got to find out more about the riders. We want people who will mix together and to get the balance right.
“It’s a major signing, and also he was at Leicester last season so he already has an affinity with the supporters, which is important in what we’re trying to build as well.”
Mountain, meanwhile, enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in 2018, in which he ended up racing at all three levels of the sport.
His performances for Coventry at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena in the National League helped bring him to the attention of Lions bosses, and he displayed plenty of promise in his top-flight stint with the club – including a memorable 9+5 display in the final meeting against Somerset.
Dickson added: “Connor was signed last season as an asset, and he rode the Leicester track really well for Coventry.
“His home average was over eleven, which is exceptional, and obviously he had Premiership matches for Leicester as well.
“At an average of 3.48 with his 2.5 per cent reduction, I think with no disrespect to the standard of some of the riders who will be at reserve in the Championship, he will be very strong in that position.
“He’s got a bit of experience now, he knows the Leicester track, and when I was first appointed I did mention that we wanted the fans to be able to be familiar with the riders, and he ticks that box straightaway.
“He’s an ideal signing and I do feel he’ll be a good, strong reserve for us.”