Talkingshop: Matt Cronshaw – on the pace already

Larry Hickmott writes … A few weeks ago in Singapore, a new signing for ‘Node4 Giordana Subaru’, Matt Cronshaw, hit the ground running with sixth place in an international criterium won by no less a rider than GreenEdge’s Robbie McEwen.

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Matt ‘posing’ for the camera of Andy Jones at the team’s photo shoot.

It was a result that surprised Matt, a 23 year old who has been racing at the top level in Britain for seemingly ages and has several Premier Calendar wins to his name. “Everything in my head told me it was going to be quite hard to get round, never mind get stuck in especially when Dean Downing said to me it was the hardest race he did last year”.

Asked to give us his report on the race, Matt said “two lines of people got called to the start line and I was at the back so it took me the first half an hour to get to the front. I thought I was going to get shelled because of the effort but then there was a lap easy and I managed to get on top of it.”
“Beppu (GreenEdge) was up the road on his own and then he punctured so McEwen went over the top and got a little group going (3 riders). The group I went across with kinda just rolled off the front out of one of the corners.”

I remember watching Matt in the race on a rather pixelated video feed from Singapore and thinking he was doing a little too much work but as he explained, he didn’t have a choice. “Once we got across to the leaders, McEwen was bossing everyone around. I tried to get away with as little as a I could but he wasn’t taking any of that.”

“If he thought you did a turn that was too short, he was on you; it’s McEwen and I didn’t really want to argue with him especially as he’s supposed to have a short temper.”

“I am really pleased with the result though. To go to a crit as your first race of the season, one that is quite fast and all I’ve been doing is long rides, so to be able to cope with the speed gave me a lot of confidence afterwards. We did a lot of work behind the motorbike in Benidorm which was good for the form but it was hard work!”

Anyone who has been on a training camp with the legend that is Malcolm Elliott will know the camps are more like boot camps as Matt explains. “The two training camps we have been on, we did 48 hours in 10 days and then 35 hours in a week in Benidorm and five of those were behind a motorbike in a group of nine. It was definitely the hardest training I have done.”

“It shows with the results that this team has had in the past though”.

Asked how his signing for ‘Node4 Giordana Subaru’ came about, Matt explained, “it was last minute really, on and off whether it was going to happen. It was mid November and I was starting to look at proper jobs which was horrible! But then it came together quickly and everyone has settled in well. When everyone gets on, you always have a good team and that could be why we’ve had such good results in the first few races.”

His team ‘Node4 Giordana Subaru’ have certainly been in winning form but even their manager Malcolm Elliott is aware the real racing has yet to start. But then, the team also have two key riders about to arrive, both bunch sprinters, Ricco Rogers and Mike Northey from New Zealand.

Early last season, Matt Cronshaw was donning the Yellow jersey in the Tour DoonHame and he admits he does tend to hit the season running. “I guess that’s the type of rider I am” he says. “I have targeted that area again; DoonHame and Lincoln etc but there are a lot of guys on the team capable of doing them as well.”

In DoonHame he won the leaders jersey on stage 1 from a small break and wore the jersey for two of the three stages before Aussie Zak Dempster came along and nicked it off him on the final stage. It’s an example how Matt feels more comfortable sprinting from small groups but sprinting in a bunch kick is something he’d like to improve at and he feels he has the team now to do that.

“With Malcolm (Elliott) managing and Ricco being a bunch sprinter, I could learn a lot from them” he says. “I have spoken to Malcolm quite a lot about improving my bunch finishing so hopefully I can be more versatile.”

“It will be interesting when Ricco comes over and exciting as by all accounts he’s really really quick. He won the bunch sprint in Singapore easily. He’ll be good for us in the Halfords Tour Series and it will be good having some one there as a pure sprinter. I have never been on a team with an out and out bunch finisher before so it will be nice to have that there and work for that as well as get in the breaks.”

At 23, Matt is certainly young enough to continue progressing. As he says, he is now finding his feet in the racing and after starting late in the sport, getting used to the demands of it and finding that he doesn’t have to prove himself any more … Look out for his name in the results on VeloUK.



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