Words: Joe Hall | Photography: Graham Watson | Date:
As a GC rider, the time trial is fairly crucial. Is it something you constantly work on?
Yes, we ride our TT bikes at least once a week and usually if we have a race coming up with a time trial we’d do more specific efforts. I think I learnt how to time trial on the ride from my parents’ house to meet the bunch as I was always running late… Now in professional cycling obviously the TT is one of the most crucial parts of a stage race, so we’re always trying to improve position and equipment.
Some riders clearly ‘enjoy’ the Race of Truth. Do you?
I do enjoy it but often the level of enjoyment depends on the course. For me I much prefer something like Col d’Eze [Paris-Nice mountain TT] as I have a better chance of a result than a dead flat crosswind time trial. But I would say I enjoy a good TT. It’s all about embracing the pain.
Apart from an efficient engine, what’s the key to riding a good TT?
Focus and being well prepare: I find if I can give 100% focus from the moment we do recon of the course through to doing a good warm up, that goes a long way to doing a great ride. Obviously it’s crucial to gauge your effort. Some people ride to a power meter but for me it’s always about feel.
The British have a TT tradition that might seem a little weird to outsiders, what do you think of this?
I think it is kind of cool that they like to go out and belt themselves for 10 miles or more. Is it as weird as just riding to a coffee shop in lycra?
A designer at Rapha has competed in National 24hr TT’s for the last five years. Would you ever consider doing something like this?
Yes I would love to. For my 29th birthday this year my mate Cameron Wurf and I did a 400km ride in Tasmania. That took us 14 hours and it’s a little mind blowing that we’d still need to do 10 hours more, but it’s a challenge I’d like to take on.
Is concentration a big part of the TT?
For sure it is one of the key ingredients to doing a slick ride. Just focusing on the performance is key but I always find my mind wanders a little during a TT. The key is remembering to breathe…
What do you do in the build up to the individual TT, warm ups and so forth?
Usually ride the course the morning of the TT. Checking tricky or technical parts is always important. We all do a good warm up which includes a little time at threshold and some lactic. I have a playlist on my iPod with a bit of house music which I find really helps with the motivation. Depending on the length of the TT I don’t really eat a lot, but I do drink a bit more coffee than I would normally for a road race.
Are you and Chris Froome pretty competitive in training?
It depends. Usually we will sprint to a few street signs or whatever. Usually I’ll hit him with a surprise attack, but there aren’t many chinks in his armour. He’s a pretty handy bike rider… So more often than not he will roll me.
You obviously get on well off the bike.
Yes. I don’t think you’ll find a more down to earth guy than Chris. I think it makes it easier for me to help him during races because we are good mates on and off the bike.
Last year in France was an incredible ride for the Team. Will this year be more difficult?
Yes, the team is going for its third yellow jersey and the competition is going to be harder this year but the course will play a part too. The Yorkshire stages will be tough but the 5th stage on the cobbles is also something different from a GC point of view. All I can say is its going to be an exciting race.