Talkingshop: Graham Briggs Down Under


Far away in warmer climates, one of the riders of 2012 in Britain, Graham Briggs (Raleigh) is getting ready to race on January 1st

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Former British Circuit Race Champion, Graham Briggs (Raleigh) will start his 2013 race programme in Great Britain colours at the well known Australian town centre races known as the Bay Crits. Graham is part of a strengthened Raleigh line up for 2013 and has been busy during the winter keeping himself out of the fridge with a variety of racing.


Graham Briggs at the Monsal Hill Climb, just one of many different types of races he’s been getting stuck into.

Cyclo-Cross, Track racing and Hill Climbs and then in less than a week, some quite brutal circuit racing followed by a stage race. Nothing like some variety to keep a rider’s focus fresh!
VeloUK first caught up with Graham in late November at the last Revolution meeting where he was seen training with female legend Marianne Vos from Holland.

“I’d done a track league on Tuesday and stopped over to do the derny session on Wednesday” Graham explained. “When I turned up, Marianne Vos was there. I thought, ‘if she’s doing it, I had better do it’ as I hadn’t ridden the track for two years and it was good to do that with her.”

Graham followed that up with some high octane track racing at Revolution 38 and then swamped that for something a little slower; some cyclo-cross. “’Cross is high intensity racing where you’re averaging 190 heart rate for an hour” the Raleigh rider explained. “I’m using that to replicate how I’ll be riding in Australia with the crits”.

Training for the crits is one thing, but Graham will also be doing a four stage, four day race that is a legend in Aussie racing, the ‘Sun Tour’. It’s a race that has seen two British legends winning it in Malcolm Elliott and Bradley Wiggins and other Brits such as Dean Downing have also held the race’s leader’s jersey.

With two of the stages over 80 miles each plus a prologue the evening of the final Bay crit and then to finish, a 90 plus kilometre stage, it’s a tough early season stage race. “I wasn’t originally going to be doing the Sun Tour so I have had to put more road miles into the training” Graham explained.


“The track helps with the speed and the intensity of cross helps with the top end” he said of all the different types of racing he was doing before leaving for Oz. To get those extra road miles though, Graham spent time in Lanzorate with some riders from his local area as well as his Raleigh teammate Matt Holmes.

There, far from the dreadful weather we have had here in Britain, Graham was able to stick in almost 30 hours training in seven days. “We split the rides up out there because it was quite demoralising with the wind all the time” he says. “We had a good group though with some local friends from the chain gang and then Matt Holmes arrived and we got some good work done.”

Graham’s schedule saw him doing blocks of 4/5/4 hours for three days and then an easy day of two hours and then another 4/5/4 hour block. In all, he racked up 28 hours which enabled him to get in some valuable time on the bike as well as get used to the heat he was going to face in Australia. On arrival back home in South Yorkshire, Graham took a day off and he was then back into doing some longish rides at a good tempo knowing he’d be having a few days off travelling to Australia.


While for many, that sort of work load may seem extreme at this time of the year, Graham is well aware that he has a long season ahead. His time in Australia is giving him the opportunity to not only train for the 2013 season and get his year off to a flying start but also have a proper holiday with his wife Sam, a break he hasn’t had post 2012 season.

While the temperatures here are in single figures and the rain continues to fall, the weather in Oz has been great for Graham who had a short stop over in Singapore and Melbourne before getting down to business in the country city of Bendigo where we spoke to Graham. Staying with NetApp-Endura rider Zak Dempster who has won many of Britain’s top races, Graham explained how the temperatures so far have been between 25 and 35 degrees.

It’s a wonder more riders don’t spend their winter there with weather like that! Graham explained how there are plenty of groups he can go out with in Bendigo where he says it can be quite cool at the start of the training rides but the place soon warms up. “The first group I went out with last week was probably about 80 strong” he said. “It was really good and quite similar to going out on the South Yorkshire chain gang.”

Talk about the Aussies making the Brit feel at home! So much so Graham says his first impression of Australia is that it’s ‘brilliant’ (good boy Graham!) “Everyone seems so relaxed and it’s so much better riding your bike in the sun!”


Graham in the national champions colours shares a joke with Sweetspot race director for the Tour Series and Tour of Britain Mick Bennett

It gets better for the Raleigh rider as he’ll be representing his country as well! “I’ll be doing the Bay Crits on the first of January riding for GB and that will be a great honour” he explained. “The last time I represented GB was 2003 so it’s been a while! It’s good to get recognised for the number of wins I have had this year.”

Graham explained he feels in good shape for the Bay Crits. “I never really had much of a break after the Tour of Britain and have trained well with the aim of doing well in these races.”

Graham added that he’s looked at the course for the Sun Tour and admits it looks tough but adds “it’s going to be a good stepping stone for the season to build on. If I can have half as good a year as this year, it will still be a good season!”

Asked how he’ll stay fresh after starting his racing so early, Graham says “I’ll have a break after the Sun Tour because I only had a week off after the Tour of Britain and I don’t want to make it too long a year. I’ll unwind for a week or two, see the sights of Australia and do the tourist thing. That will keep me motivated for the season”.

Talking about the season ahead after the break up of the Endura Racing team and many of it’s riders going to other teams, as well as a new team or two springing up, the season looks, on paper at least, to be very open. “I don’t think there will be one dominate team next season which is good for the spectators who don’t want to see one team dominating all the time” says Graham.

Whilst his team Raleigh will want to try and dominate the season with their new signings such as Alex Blain, Graham adds “I think the racing will be a lot more tactical but a lot will also depend on how the teams gel for the first few races. With there not being so many Premier Calendar races, it will be interesting to see how it pans out.”


The Raleigh team working as a unit in the Stockton GP.

Graham says it would be better if there were more than just six Premier Calendar races but adds “we just have to make do with what there are and do our best in them. The season is very short, from end of April to mid July so we’ll be looking to do more European racing but we’ll be trying to do our best in the UK. The Circuit Series is only three weeks long which means you can stay on it the whole time. Especially if it comes off the back of the Tour Series.”

“This year I had a steady week between them, the Tour Series and Circuit Series and that seemed to work, switching off for a week and then hitting it hard again.” Work indeed as ‘Brigga’ and his team dominated the Circuit Series with Graham winning it by a big margin.

What happens in 2013 will depend a lot on how the strengthened Raleigh team manage their riders especially with the firepower that they have with riders such as Alex Blain etc. But you can be sure Graham Briggs will play a key role in the team as he looks to build on the success of 2012.

Thanks to Graham for his time and good luck to him and the rest of the Brits racing in Aussie next week!


Graham Briggs adds a Premier Calendar event to his palmeres after lots of crit wins in 2012.

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