Interview: Russell Hampton going solo in 2014


Talking to Tour of Britain king of the mountains jersey holder and Bronze medallist in the 2012 British RR Champs; Russell Hampton

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A link to help Russell via ‘crowd funding’ which has never been done before and it gives fans a part in elite sport and feel part of the experience:

Essex rider Russell Hampton will be riding solo in 2014 for Athlonsport. Asked how it came about, Russell explained “I started going into the shop for a few coffee stops on rides and got talking with Steve Collins (one of the directors) about my situation this year and I wanted to go back to the basics before I fall out of love with the sport. It was quite a trying time for me before I knew it, we were making it happen.”


You have tasted success in the sport at many levels, what are you most looking to do in 2014?
Russell: Doing what I love to do, race hard and prove people wrong.

Being a solo rider will have advantages. What do you see as the key advantages?
Russell: I know people will ask how am I going to compete with all the teams but I see it as a great sporting challenge that I can really get my teeth into. The main advantage is that I race for myself and can run off the back of the bigger teams just like I have done before. Someone said to me recently that I’ll be the true British underdog which I’ll thrive on.

Which events do you feel will be targets in 2014 
Russell: The events I will be targeting are the televised events. Being an individual will limit me in some areas like the Tour Series but will give me the focus to work towards the National RR/TT Champs and the new Premier Calenders. I want to be the best domestic pro out there and I think that is very much achievable.


You enjoy a time trial, will you be looking to do some of them in 2014, say the 10 or 25 champs as well as the nationals in Abervgavenny?
Russell: There will be a bigger focus on the National TT Events as I have more time to focus on them and I can plan my race programme around them whereas before, teams didn’t care too much about them so it was very difficult to fit them in. I believe I can get up there with the likes of Bottrill and Hutchinson when I have the time to focus on the event.

Will Athlonsport be supplying you your bikes for 2014 and if so, do you know what you will be riding?
Russell: I have a bike brand as a sponsor which is associated with the shop. It’s important for us to link equipment into the shop to increase the brand awareness of our products within the shop.

Do you get a say in what brand bike you think will suit you?
Russell: I have had quite a big say in what direction to go in. I always look at what will do the job best without it being flashy. It’s about making those marginal gains work.

The season for solo riders or those not in Tour Series teams has a big hole in it in May/June. Is that a good thing in giving you a break to train up for the Nationals?
Russell: In the teams I’ve been in, I always seem to miss out on the Tour Series anyway. I think I have done two rounds over the years so it won’t be much different to other years. It’s a good period to knuckle down with training and getting in the right work to be in top condition for the Nationals. I’ve shown before that I know what it takes to get there in the best shape.

Tell us about 2013 and how that went for you?
Russell: 2013 was very very hard for me. It just didn’t get started and I never really got the chance to show myself. There was a lot of politics with it all and it did make me feel like I had hit rock bottom and depression followed with that. At the end of the day, I’m a purist. I love this sport to death and will always ride my bike but when that feels like it’s being taken away, it’s very hard to take. This is why this project is so exciting to me. It’s sport at its best – pure sport and no politics.


Having tasted success, do you feel you are now better equipped to know how to train for 2014.
Russell: Over the years, by making mistakes, that has helped me to know what works and what doesn’t. This doesn’t mean I’m not working on new things. My coach and I are always looking at any gains we can make so you never stop learning. That’s the beauty of it all.

What will the winter hold for you training programme wise. What works for you?
Russell: First thing is don’t get too excited and train too hard before Xmas. Keep it steady and use other forms of exercise to keep progressing. I do a lot of MTB for example which gives me good skills, base and strength and keeps you from not getting bored of riding on the road all the time.

When do you expect to start racing — the very local Jock Wadley perhaps?
Russell: I haven’t decided what will be my first race. I will wait to the new year to decide but the Jock Wadley will be a big race for me and Athlonsport as its our local classic. I want to win this before I retire for some bragging rights on the club run.


Russell Hampton in the Junior champs jersey at his local crit, Brentwood.

You have packed a lot into your career, World Cup win, KoM jersey at the Tour of Britain and so much more. What do you look back on when out on a six hour ride solo for motivation.
Russell: I don’t look back so much. For me, it’s all about looking forward and concentrating on my goals I want to achieve. I just ask myself why am I out here in the cold for six hours and you normally get that positive feeling that spurs you on.

How important is having someone like Alex Dowsett to train with as motivation to get out there.
Russell: It’s nice to have a training partner who I have grown up with all my cycling life. We know what makes each other tick and he shows me that it can be done. Sometimes you just need that bit of luck and patience. He has helped me a lot this last six months and been a massive motivation factor.

Finally, what was the one thing that made you want to stick with the sport after the disappointments?
Russell: The love of the sport. I don’t do this for money or fame. I just love it. I can still go out on my bike and feel like that 12 year old riding around after watching the Tour de France all day. I also want to give back to the sport. We have a lot of new people coming into the sport who I see every day in Athlonsport and I would hope they see me as a bit of a role model and someone they can come to and ask my advice so they can enjoy the sport as much as I do.


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