TalkingShop: Ian Stannard

Gordon Wisman writes … Ian Stannard, the 24 year old Sky professional, has just completed an arduous winter’s training that will ensure he starts his 2012 racing campaign as fit and as strong as he’s ever been.

An amazing 2011 saw Ian pick up his first pro race win, at the Tour of Austria in July, play a crucial role in the final stages of the Copenhagen World Championship road race that saw Britain’s Mark Cavendish win cycling’s coveted rainbow jersey before wrapping up his year finishing fourth overall in autumn’s Paris – Tour, one of the final one day Classics of the season.

During December and January Ian put in some very hard blocks of training at Team Sky’s winter camp in Majorca, a joint venture shared with Team GB, Britain’s Olympic and Elite  bike racing outfit.  “I had a bit of a problem in December as I fell when out one day walking the dog and damaged my knee but I soon got back into the training.”

“I guess I must have been out in Majorca for nearly five weeks in total. I couldn’t stay there throughout the whole period as you can get stale being based in the same hotel – even though it was very nice – with all the same people.”

“We did some very long rides and some intense special efforts all programmed to suit each rider’s seasonal targets. So what I was doing wasn’t necessarily the same as, say, Bradley Wiggins or Cav”.

Mark Cavendish is new to the Team Sky line-up in 2012 and, as cycling’s number 1 road sprinter, will bring some new priorities to arguably the world’s top cycle team. So how does Ian see his new team-mate fitting in?

“Cav will bring another element to the team.  But I’ve known him since our Academy days and he’s been trained by Rod Ellingworth of Team Sky for a number of years even though he raced for other teams so in many ways it’s a seamless transition to have him on board”.

Over the years Ian has built up a reputation as being a rider with considerable strength and power, capable of putting in incredibly long, hard stints at the front of the peloton that often sees 100 and more riders gasping in his wake.  So does he know just how powerful he is? When asked this question this weekend at the final Revolution race at the National Cycling Centre, where Ian was one of the star attractions, his faced lit up.  “Let’s just say I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been before and I just can’t wait to get started.”

“I’m producing great power figures but nothing really counts until we start the racing”. Although racing on the track at Manchester on Saturday night was fun, once he pinned on a race number Ian was ready to race as he always likes to, hard:  “I’ve not touched my track bike for a while but you soon get used to it again. The Derny race was good but I had to keep telling my pacer to go faster!”

With there being so little time nowadays between the end of one racing season and the start of another, how did Ian spend his break from racing? “I finished racing so late last year that I didn’t have time to do any weight training as part of a winter programme. I had five weeks when I mainly stayed off the bike, a little mountain bike riding but otherwise it’s just been long rides to make sure I was fit enough for the team camps”.

As in the first two years with Team Sky, Ian will be following the same early season racing programme so that he starts his favoured cobbled Classics in Belgium and northern France in tip-top condition. “I start at the Tour of Qatar this week then move to Oman. There’s a short break, really only enough to travel back to England before we go to Belgium for double-header weekend of Het Nieuwsblad (Het Volk) and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne” – the race Ian first demonstrated that he’s a Classics rider of the future after finishing in third place in 2010.

Explaining why Qatar is such good preparation for the Spring Classics Ian said; “Qatar is perfect. It’s flat out racing and everyone is giving it full gas. There’s cross winds just as we get in Belgium and we’re all racing at our threshold limits, so it’s great for overall conditioning”.

Rod Ellingworth is also monitoring Ian’s performances over the coming year and talked about how he has been going in training and what the team want him to achieve in his early season targets: “Ian’s looking the best he’s ever looked heading into this season. He’s carried his condition through right from the Vuelta last September and is riding really well. His training over the winter has been spot on and we’re all really happy with him. He had a few bad crashes towards the end of last year which forced him off the bike for a short spell but since then he’s done really well to get himself back up to speed.”

“I think he thought he was playing catch up at the training camp in Majorca in December, but that wasn’t the case due to the shape he was in at the end of last season. This month, he’s been consistently impressing us with his work-rate and that’s pleasing heading into the season.

“In terms of the Classics, there are five guys who are definitely going to be riding the big ones, and he’s one of them. He’ll be going there to get results and I’m confident if everything works out well on the day, he could even pull off a really big victory.”

“He’s going to Qatar and Oman to prepare for those and will be doing a job for Bernhard Eisel, who’s going to be our GC man, and also in the lead-outs for Cav. There’s obviously going to be no pressure on him at all and he’ll be there purely to get himself up to race pace.”

Ian can rattle off every race he’ll be doing through to the middle of August and the Tour of Poland. The schedule includes the Giro D’Italia in May but he may be adding another three week Grand Tour to his schedule towards the end of the year as he may also be riding in the Vuelta a Espana again in August and September.

“Last year I did 95 race days” – excluding all the associated travelling – “and this year I’ll have clocked around 60 by the time we do the Olympics. I’m a road racer and many see the Olympic road race as one of cycling’s biggest prizes. To have the chance to take part in an event as big as that in your own back yard is just too big to miss!”

Interviews from VeloUK

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