Talkingshop: Russell Hampton moving on up …

After his third place in the National Road Race Championship, Russell Hampton (Raleigh GAC) feels he’s made a step up in his goal towards riding the biggest races in cycling. 

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“I would say it’s my best performance so far in my career. I’ve had a rough few years so I think that bronze medal ride was a massive stepping stone to help me move on to better things. I always knew I was capable of it.”

Russell said it was a better ride than the one in the Tour of Britain which is the race that helped bring his name out into the open after he wore the King of the Mountain’s jersey he got while on his trade mark long break. Like many famous riders (Jacky Durand etc) who have made names for themselves in long breaks, it is something that Russell too is featuring in these days. Not just the road race champs but also in Canada the week before.

Russell Hampton, Ian Stannard and Alex Dowsett at the head of the British RR Championship.

Russell also feels that while in the Tour of Britain he was able to follow the GC guys, in the road champs, he was able to go toe to toe or should that be pedal stroke for stroke with riders who are racing the biggest races in the world and were also in line for Olympic selection. For that reason, he rates his ride at the champs higher.

Watching the ITV4 coverage a day after the race, I was impressed with how Russell responded to the attacks in the break. Both Alex Dowsett and Ian Stannard have shown time and time again just how strong they are and Stannard especially was doing his level best to get rid of the other riders in the break. Reports from other riders in that break of being taken out the back by the eventual champion and attacked show just how difficult it was to stay in that group but stay there Russell did.

“I was in a difficult position up against two Sky riders but I felt in the race I was pretty much on par with Ian (Stannard). If it had been me and him at the finish, it could have been so much more different but with two riders from the same team , I was always having to be defensive which goes against my way of riding.”

Three riders in that break, Stannard, Dowsett, and Hampton are all from Essex and of them, Dowsett and Hampton are good friends having raced with the same club, Glendene CC as well been in the Great Britain team on the track (Russell won a World Cup in LA) as well as being based together in Italy with the Under 23 GB Academy.

During the race though they both focused on their own races and Russell explained how he knew Alex would work with him once Stannard had a big enough lead and that was what happened.

Russell also explained that being in the break had other advantages. Getting drinks for example. Normally a rider will have to take his chances in the chaos of a feed zone to get a drinks bottle which requires a rider to make sure they position themselves well to have any chance of grabbing the bottle from a soigneur. In the break though, Russell was able to get drinks when ever he needed from his team car.”

The next big goal for Russell and his team is the Tour of Britain. For the team, the Tour Series was the first major goal and they did well in that, something which gave Russell confidence whilst he was out doing his big block of training away from the crit racing. “I watched the Tour Series and saw the guys do so well it spurred me on. Even though I wasn’t racing with them, I gained confidence knowing my team was doing well.”

At the tailend of the Halfords Tour series, Russell and the Raleigh-GAC team went to Canada for a UCI stage race and podiums followed for the team on stages including Russell. It also helped Russell prepare for the championship road race, providing the long miles as well as the race speed.

“The stage race in Canada helped me cope with the length of the national road race champs strength wise but I naturally have that endurance in the bank anyway. My training is more been about speed work with motor pacing and so on. There’s no point riding 180k at 20mph as it’s all about race speed and that is what has helped me step up as I’m training at race speed a lot of the time now.”

With two months left before the Tour of Britain, the team will be doing a lot of domestic racing but Russell is keen to stress you don’t need to race a lot to do well. “Last year, I had hardly 15 days of racing under my wheels before the Tour of Britain and I did okay. It’s all about focusing on the job and making sure I’m in the best shape I can be on day one of the race.”

Finally, asked to tell us about the bike he’s riding, Russell explained “it’s a Raleigh Militis with Dura Ace groupset which is a really good all round bike. With me being a taller rider, it has set me up well. I have been racing the shallower Shimano wheels lately because they are bit lighter and they seem to give me better acceleration when attacking and with the undulations at the nationals that worked well.”

Russell’s next big race will be another Premier Calendar event in the North East.


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