Interview: Ben Sumner moving on up


Under 23 rider Ben Sumner continues to make a name for himself and last weekend was second to Paul Oldham at the second round of the National Trophy

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VeloUK interviews a rider who was not only second to Paul Oldham last weekend in Southampton but also took the Under 23 leader’s jersey and claimed the scalps of some legends in off road racing. Ben Sumner lives near Reading in an area he says is perfect for training, adding “I can do my usual 80 mile training loop without touching a main road”.


Ben pictured early in 2013 leading the Under 23 British Cyclo-Cross Championship. Ben went on to finish third.

Looking back at the National Trophy race in Southampton on the weekend, Ben says “The race went really well. I had not previously placed higher than 7th at a Trophy, so to get onto the podium was a big result for me. My main goal going into the race was to take the Under 23 leaders jersey, so getting that too made for a great day.

How did it feel to have legends like Beckingsale and Craig behind you on the result sheet.
Ben: It felt odd for sure, those guys are legends in the cycling world!

How long have you been racing?
Ben: I’ve been racing for 5 years now, but the first 2 years were spent riding round at the back of races just for fun. I’m currently in my 3rd cross season.

What made you choose cyclo-cross?
Ben: I have always enjoyed cycling when it becomes grim, I love the feeling of walking through the door after a solo 5 hour training ride in the pissing rain, so I guess ‘cross kind of made sense.

Do you race a lot of cross in the winter or pick and choose carefully the races you do?
Ben: I will always pencil in the National Trophy series and the World Cup series in case of selection. I’ll then choose some other races around them that fit in with my schedule.


Your bike, what make/model Full carbon?
Ben: My sponsors, Beeline Bicycles, have equipped me with two very fancy Specialized Carbon Crux’s. They’re full carbon, and have a very similar feel to my SL4 road bike; stiff, responsive and light.

If you had a choice, would you prefer canti or disc brakes?
Ben: At present, I don’t feel the disc brake technology, with respect to cyclo-cross, is mature enough yet, so for now I’ll stick with canti’s until the problems are ironed out.

Does the bike remain the same from race to race or do you tweak things for specific courses?
Ben: My bikes remain pretty much the same for every single race of the year, the only two things I change are the tyres and the tyre pressures.

What sort of tyres do you use, brand, width and are they clinchers or tubs?
Ben: I use Challenge Tubulars. I run the Griffo and the Limus, they’re all 33mm with the ‘team edition’ casing.

What sort of gearing front and back you have on your bike?
Ben: I use a 39-46 setup on the front and a 11-27 on the back. I have moved onto Shimano’s Electronic Di2 system for this season and I’m finding it really beneficial for cyclo-cross. The shifts are super quick and being able to dump gears quickly helps out of sharp bends.


Does the weight of the cross bike matter with all that running you have do.
Ben: I think weight matters, both on and off the bike to a degree, but the conditions are often very hard on equipment, making durability my main criteria.

Bunny hop or run over the planks and why?
Ben: I always run, just to keep things low risk. I don’t fancy going on youtube the day after a race and seeing a video of myself with a mouth full of dirt!

Does your cyclo-cross shoe differ to a road one?
Ben: The main differences are in the sole; they have a lot more grip compared to a road shoe and obviously they run an SPD cleat instead of a road cleat. I’m currently using Sidi Drako Carbons, they have holes for studs up front and the adjustable heel helps to get a perfect fit for comfort whilst running.

Is it mainly resting between races or is there a structured training programme behind the racing programme?
Ben: I have a very structured plan set by my coach Andy Wadsworth. We’re always looking at places I can improve. I do lots of long steady miles, along with intervals and cross specific sessions. I also spend a lot of time in the gym.

What are your goals – cross only or other disciplines as well
Ben: I am solely focussing on cross at the moment. My main goals this season are to retain the “Green Jersey” and of course the National Championships will be a big goal for me. I would also like to get a top 20 at World Championships if I’m selected.


Ben (left) on the podium at this years British cross champs 

Is there a specific type of cross course you enjoy – fast, muddy, flat, hilly etc
Ben: As close to a road race as possible, fast, flat and dry is ideal.

Finally, best moment so far in this cross season?
Ben: That would have to be leading the National Trophy on Sunday. Being on the front for over half the race was a big step up for me. Taking 2nd place at the end of it was a massive confidence boost.




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