TalkingShop: From Welwyn Track League to World Tour – Andy Fenn

From the Welwyn Track League to a World Championship Bronze medal in the Under 23 Road Race, Andrew Fenn has come a long way very quickly. In 2012, the An Post rider will move to the new Omega Pharma Quickstep WorldTour team where he’ll be living and racing in the home of the Classics, Belgium.

It is all a long way from his roots in Hertfordshire where he was a prolific winner on the track at Welwyn Garden City. A look at his palmeres points to him becoming a ‘trackie’ back then but some times things don’t go the way you expect them and the career of Andy Fenn has certainly changed track.

In 2001, he was the Under 12 Omnium champion and he was on the podium no less than five times in 2004 at the Youth Track Championships. Fast forward four years though and Andy Fenn was winning Paris Roubaix as a junior. Okay, the race finishes on a velodrome but you could not get further from a track than a race like Paris Roubaix.

Stage 5 of the Tour of Britain 2011: Behind the Renshaw and Cavendish show are two riders who have won Paris-Roubaix, the Junior version, Andy Fenn and Geraint Thomas.

Fenn was following in the wheeltracks of Geraint Thomas but unlike the Welshman who combines the road and track for his country, Fenn seems quite happy sticking to the road. In 2010, Andrew was first in the Under 23 British Road Race Championship on a savage course while Thomas won the open title and then this year with An Post, Fenn had two victories, Stage 7 in the Tour of Bretagne and a win in the Memorial Van Coningsloo.

At the recent Revolution track meeting, there was a sight we don’t get to see very often – a British World Road Race Champion (Mark Cavendish) racing a Madison (Kilo) with a Bronze medallist in the Under 23 Road Race Championship. Who’d have thought that would happen five years ago!

Racing at Revolution, Andrew  says, was a shock to the system as he’d just had a break and was only just getting back into things. It was though he says, great to be racing with Cav.

Looking back at the Road Worlds, he says of course it was disappointing not to win the rainbow jersey especially after the way his team rode for him on the day but winning a medal was still a great achievement.  His team had a plan and they stuck to it and came away with a medal.

Mark McNally and Andrew Fenn, riders in An Post in 2011. Mark will continue to ride for them in 2012 while Andy goes to Quickstep.

By then though, Andrew had already signed for Omega Pharma Quickstep (interview) and prior to the Worlds, he had a good Tour of Britain, getting up there in the bunch gallops against the likes of Cavendish and Renshaw and finishing in the top 10 many times.

Andrew explained that he’s already had a get together with his new team, meeting the new riders and staff. The team will see a lot of new people coming in from HTC (such as Britain’s Matt Brammeier ) for example and December will see team building and training camps.

Andrew has already been busy going back and forth for tests and fittings for the new bikes. He is however, very appreciative of the help that An Post provided him. “An Post was a really good stepping stone for me this year” Andrew explained.

Andy Fenn racing for Dolan Bikes in 2008 as a Junior seen here in the Junior Tour of Wales.

“They did a lot for me and I have to thank Sean Kelly and Kurt for that opportunity. Looking at my race programme for 2012, there’s a lot of races I was doing with Sean’s team but in 2012 I’ll be riding them with a bigger team so there’ll be more pressure and bit more expected of me.”

The races Andrew talks of are UCI 1.1s for instance but he is also down to ride some WorldTour events and is a reserve for the Tour Down Under. “I think the schedule will pan out more at the first training camp when they see what everyone’s conditions like” he adds.

One race he doesn’t expect to be part of in 2012 with Pharma Quickstep is the Tour of Flanders. “Flanders will be a definite no for me as the team is so strong for these races. That’s like their World Championships over there but it’s where I want to be in that team even though I know I will be hard pressed to get in”.

Andrew went on to explain that his time in the GB Academy helped a lot during his time with An Post. “You tend to be more independent in a team like AN Post than one like Quickstep where there‘s a lot of staff taking care of so much for you. The experience in the academy helped me find my feet a lot quicker living in Belgium.”

What it didn’t lead to was a contract with team Sky like Luke Rowe.  Andrew did speak to people like Shane Sutton at team Sky but was more than happy to take the Quickstep option. He has after all won the Junior Paris Roubaix and what better team to be in than a Belgian one when the classics figure so strongly in a rider’s ambitions.

He has a two year  deal with the team and knows he can’t be complacent. There are races he wants to win and who knows, perhaps in a year or two, he’ll  be there in the bunch kicks mixing it with Cavendish, but this time as a rival rather than a teammate.

I for one, certainly hope so and wish Andy lots of luck living the dream in Belgium in 2012.

Interviews from VeloUK

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