Making a name for himself in the home of cyclo-cross, Belgium, is British champion Ian Field of Hargroves Cycles
More than once this season, Ian Field has had the fans of cyclo-cross and more talking about his performances in the mud and sand of Belgium. With the help of his sponsors Hargroves Cycles, VeloUK interviewed Ian about that success and a lot more! Thanks Fieldy!
How was the Superprestige race on the weekend?
Ian: The Super Prestige race on Sunday was really good and it really backed up the performance at the Koppenberg cross. Two similar results but I achieved them in two totally different ways which was good. It showed I don’t have to have an awesome start to achieve those top 15 results that I have been wanting for so long now.
How did you spend the summer before the ‘cross season? Did you race at all?
Ian: The summer went well. I was pretty demotivated after the last Cross season having had a hard time of things. So I took the first half of the summer pretty easy and found the love of riding my bike and racing again by doing more MTB racing than previous summers. I did the odd road race here and in Belgium but I mainly worked my socks off in training.
Do you race a lot of ‘cross in the winter or pick and choose carefully the races you do?
Ian: I guess I race a lot compared to UK riders with anything up to 40 odd races a season however this season I am picking and choosing more carefully which races I am attending so that I am more consistent throughout the season as a whole.
What’s the main difference in your approach to this season compared to others?
Ian: I am more focused than ever on what I want to achieve and how I am going to do it. I set up what has now been called ‘team fieldy’ working with Dan Fleeman of digdeep coaching, paying a more or less full time mechanic, surrounding myself with positive friends and family. I have also invested in a camper for the winter to try and make life easier on race days rather than working out of a car. All this combined along with my new motivation and hard work is really paying off.
Are you at a higher level now physically or is it perhaps more confidence in your ability that is helping you?
Ian: I am at a higher level physically than ever before. I know its a clichÃ© but my numbers are better by a considerable margin over previous seasons and when you are seeing this improvement in training, the confidence begins to rise before you have even raced. Then, once you start achieving better results in the biggest races in the World, there is a snowball effect.
How important is the help you get from a company like Hargroves Cycles?
Ian: It’s plain and simple, without Hargroves Cycles I wouldn’t be a professional bike rider. Pete (Hargroves) pointed out to me the other day, I have ridden for him for 7 years now. This shows loyalty from both myself as a rider and them as a sponsor which is finally being rewarded with the exposure it deserves. Some people may scoff at the fact I am still ‘only’ riding for a UK shop sponsor however I can assure you, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I have spoken to some of the ‘big’ Belgian teams in the past and the level of support would have dropped below current levels if I had signed for them.
Your bike, what model Specialized is it? Full carbon?
Ian: My bikes are Specialized Carbon Crux’s. They are full carbon and are based on the SL4 road bike. They ride unbelievably well. It was a while in production but it was worth the wait!
Is it available to buy off the peg?
Ian: It’s a totally off the peg frameset and anybody could easily build up the finished article that I ride.
If you had a choice, would you prefer canti or disc brakes?
Ian: At the minute I am more than happy on the Shimano canti’s. Until the disc setups have been fully developed and all the small details/problems are ironed out, I wouldn’t want to be on them.
Does the bike remain the same from race to race or do you tweak things for specific courses?
Ian: My bikes remain pretty much the same for every single race of the year. The only two things I change are the tubs used and tub pressures along with which cassettes I want on.
Â I would say on the whole, courses in Europe are tougher. A lot more hard straight sections and climbing each lap compared to the UK. I would say they are more technically challenging as well. There are sand courses in Europe which isn’t really heard of in the UK
What sort of tyres do you use, brand, width and are they clinchers or tubs?
Ian: Always Challenge Tubulars. I run the Griffo XS, Griffo and Limus. I have just received the new Chicane but have not had chance to use them yet. They are all 32-33mm and the ‘team edition’ casing.
What sort of gearing front and back does a pro cross bike like yours have?
Ian: I run a 39-46 setup up front then change between 12-25 and 12-27 cassettes depending on the course.
Does the weight of the ‘cross bike matter with all that running you have do.
Ian: For me, weight matters whether running with the bike or riding it. The lighter the better but with ‘Cross, I am not willing to risk components for the sake of weight so its aluminium ‘pro’ bars, stems and seat posts.
Bunny hop or run over the planks?
Ian: Since I dislocated my shoulder last season bunny hopping the planks at the Roubaix World Cup, it has been running for me! Depending on the nature of where the planks are, the most you probably lose with a good technique is a second or two. This against the risk for me at the moment isn’t worth it. You have to be 100% confident you can do them clean every single time no matter if you are tired, with someone or fresh as a daisy.
What are the main differences between European ‘cross courses and British ones. You seem to get a lot of sand traps yes/no?
Ian: I would say on the whole, courses in Europe are tougher. A lot more hard straight sections and climbing each lap compared to the UK. I would say they are more technically challenging as well. There are sand courses in Europe which isn’t really heard of in the UK; as for traps, there are more as its a spectacle for people going to watch races, plus with courses being more permanent in Europe, its the kind of thing that is built and then used year after year where as in the UK, I doubt you would be allowed to dump a few tonnes of sand in a public park and leave it there year after year.
Riding in the champions jersey – does that help you get picked out by the commentators?
Ian: I think it does a little bit. I think the bigger thing about being picked out is having been at the bigger races now for a number of years so commentators just begin to give you a mention as you are a regular!
When you look back at Koppenberg and see a pic or video of yourself leading the race, how do you feel? Goosebumps, big buzz?
Ian: I have only watched it back once the night after the race with my mechanic as we ate tea and I just found it funny that I was leading one of the biggest races in the World. I might have to watch it again soon when I am on the turbo or something!
Does a cyclo-cross shoe differ to a road one?
Ian: The only difference about the Specialized off road shoe compared to its road brother, is the sole. Extra grip and a couple of studs up front mean running up steep muddy banks isn’t a problem. Then, obviously, the fitting for an spd cleat rather than road. They are super light and comfy just like the road version.
Is it mainly resting between races or is there a structured training programme behind the racing programme?
Ian: There is a seriously structured training programme behind me. If you were to simply rest or just ride between races, form would quickly disappear so its hard work between the races throughout the season to try and maintain what I have going into the season.
Why is gridding so important for a ‘cross race?
Ian: For anyone who has watched a Cross, you can be 15 seconds down after the first corner if there is a bit of a hold up and then this stretches over the first half a lap as things become lined out. The boys at the front are the best in the World, so you cannot afford to give them an inch let alone 20 seconds after a lap. Therefore, the gridding and start is all important.
Who would you like to thank for their help in helping you live the dream there in Belgium?
Ian: Wow, so many people have been there for me over the years to make this happen and I try and thank them as often as possible personally when I talk to them so I will concentrate on this season for the sake of this interview.
Firstly Hargroves Cycles and obviously, especially, Pete, Specialized and all the teams sponsors for putting together the package which allows me to be out there. Personal sponsor MD Floor promotions for sticking with me and being a big motivator when it comes to achieving my goals. Dan ‘the mastermind’ Fleeman for believing in me and helping me out with coaching at digdeep. Jim B for being one of the best mechanics in the World. My close friends and family, you know who you are!
Then finally my girlfriend Annie for supporting me 24/7 no matter what my results; she is something special.
Thanks to Ian for answering all those questions! Good luck to him during the rest of the season and watch out for him when he returns for the British champs!