Interview with a new man in black – Chris Opie


Winner of Tour Series crits & road races, the versatile Chris Opie came out of the ashes of UK Youth and has been signed for 2014 by Rapha Condor JLT

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Chris is from Cornwall where he spends his time when not on the road. “I love being in Cornwall and as much as I love the racing, I can’t wait to get back to my son and fiancée afterwards”. Chris had his first race back in 1998. “I think there were only three in the race. I was 10, the other two 14 and 16. I didn’t win!”


From Cornwall and proud! Chris (right) with this countys flag on the Tour of Britain

Here is the Q & A with one of the fastest men in British road racing in 2013

Do you have a favourite discipline?
Chris: Road racing is definitely my favourite. It’s what I always grew up dreaming of doing. The Grand Tours or Northern classics just look spectacular to an impressionable young athlete. In the last few years, I have really enjoyed the Tour Series. It’s a great concept and short enough so that the public and newcomers can understand and follow it easily which makes it more accessible which I think is great for us in the UK.

What has been the highlight of the 2013 season?
Chris: The highlight is difficult really as there were so many. Canary Wharf was a good one though, as was the Tour of the Reservoir, a mega hilly stage 1! The Tour of Britain leaves room for improvement, but again, I learnt a lot this year.

Which race has been the best one (most fun) to do?
Chris: I really enjoyed the Ipswich GP in September. I really hope it grows as it’s an enjoyable circuit. It’s flat and it’s a race that can be ‘raced’ from start to finish.

Would you rate this year as your best?
Chris: Yes. There is still plenty of room for improvement though!


Not an unusual sight at a race – a warm welcome from Chris

Two wins in the Tour Series – is there a favourite among them?
Chris: They were both really different for me. Canary Wharf was a perfect race for me. Fastest Lap, Sprints, Team Prize and then Individual as well. To win that round, at the home of UK Youth, was important as a team, but personally too. It’s the grandest setting of the Tour Series and also it was the first Tour Series I had ridden in 2010. It completed the circle nicely. Aylsham was just pure enjoyment. It reminded me so much of the races I had done in Holland when I met my fiancée in 2002. It was just fun to be there. So, they’re close, but Canary Wharf just edges it!

What would you say is your best asset as a rider, sprinting?
Chris: I guess it is. It’s how I have won the races I have this year.

As well as challenging for the podiums, did you have a support role to play in UK Youth?
Chris: I like to think I was able to help others win this year. A stage race in Sweden, a Tour Series round and like everyone else in the team, we all contributed throughout each race to the end result. We worked well together!

What did Steve Benton bring to you in coaching that you found helped you move up?
Chris: Steve has coached and worked with me since August 2010. Every year I’m surprised by the changes he creates in my training and my ability to perform. He is a genius really and it’s Steve who I always credit my career to. He’s always there, a five minute phone call or a 90 minute phone call, each as important and has his undivided attention. What Steve doesn’t know…


One of his two wins in the Tour Series – Canart Wharf

Did the success come as a surprise or did you feel at the start of the season, it was going to be a ‘big’ one?
Chris: That’s a good question. I can picture us now sat in a room together talking about the potential, but to get that out on the road is something else. It’s here that David ‘Pov’ Povall and Yanto (Barker) really shone. They created the team from the individuals. Whilst we were at races, they helped us communicate and work as a group. That’s not an easy task, channelling the competitiveness of 12 individuals for the greater good of us all.

How many hours a week would you train on and off the bike out of the season?
Chris: That varies massively. On training camps where you might do more than thirty to having an easy week at home where you might not do eight. Obviously these are both extremes but there’s a lot to consider with training. The weather, what’s right for you at that time etc… It’s not a job I’d like to do, a coach is vital to any cyclist that wants to succeed.

Do you tend to train alone or in a chaingang?
Chris: Unfortunately I train alone a lot. There are 4 or 5 riders I can meet up with and do so if I can but I’m the only full time rider in Cornwall and have strict training schedules I enjoy sticking to. This can make it hard to meet up with others and also pretty antisocial.

What is the best thing about racing bikes?
Chris: Winning. There’s no feeling like winning!


The other win was Alysham

And what is the one thing you enjoy least!
Chris: Probably when you get home and it’s been wet and cold, so you know you have to clean the bike as soon as possible. Also, the last 15 minutes when you’ve been hungry and thirsty as you’ve decided not to stop as it’s so close to home. That becomes a chore at times.

If you could change one of your weaknesses into a strength, which one would it be?
Chris: I can’t fly, sometimes I dream I can fly but in reality I can’t. This could be perceived as a weakness, therefore I would quite like to improve on it!

What will you be doing training wise during the winter? Do you break it up into phases of endurance, intervals etc?
Chris: I rarely do the same sessions twice. Steve B creates interesting sessions to get through and it helps pass the time too. Sometimes I do a ride that is up to me to choose what I do. But I prefer the schedules.

Will you race at all in the winter (cross, track, circuit races)?
Chris: I did a ‘cross race a few weeks ago. I made a comment on FaceBook about if I had a carbon CX bike with Discs Di2 and Tubs I would do a race. Vin Cox stepped forward and lent me his own bike, it was great fun, but I couldn’t believe how different it was to road!

What do you enjoy doing most when not riding the bike?
Chris: Spending time with my son, fiancée and our friends. That’s why I like it in Cornwall!

Are you heading to Australia with the men in black in January and if so, is that the first time in Oz?
Chris: I am, and it is. Fortunately I’ve been told all the snakes and spiders hibernate in January. What? That’s not true?….

How did you feel when a major team like Rapha comes a knocking?
Chris: Proud, it’s such an established team and something I am proud to be joining. I had a big smile on my face after the first phone call with John Herety.


2012 – Chris squeezes in to challenge Russell Downing in the Beaumont Trophy

What are the races you are looking forward to most in 2014 as you seemingly looked at home in the crits or road races?
Chris: I’m actually really looking forward to the stage races. I think it’s something I will really benefit from. But also something that really suits my particular abilities. I really want to make the most of those opportunities next year.

Is there a specific role Rapha will be looking to you for in races? IE, when they signed you, was it because we want you do this and this?
Chris: They had heard how good I am at cleaning cars, you only need to see my twitter ( to understand why! Also, apparently my sprinting potential. But I actually hope it’s because they believe I will fit in well with the team and their goals and produce good results and wins.

Ed Clancy is/was thought to be the fastest sprinter, you rock up and beat him and now you are in the same team. Do you kind of feel you have ‘arrived’ as a major player in the sport here now?
Chris: I’m not really sure how to answer that. I see myself as someone who has a good chance of winning certain races now. That’s how I would like people to think of me.

Sprinting against Cav etc in the Tour of Britain. What did you learn about bunch kicks at that level that you don’t see in them here in Prems etc?
Chris: The run in to the finish is a lot faster. If you want to win, you have to be the first team (2-3 riders) through the final corner. But to do that you have to be at the front all the time. The final sprint speeds aren’t the deciding factor as much as the positioning.


Chris on the left, fifth on the final stage of the Tour of Britain.

Finally, is winter a great time to relax or do you miss the racing already and are hungry to get going again …
Chris: It’s a bit of both really. Especially this year. I absolutely love being at home, but also I want to put things I learnt this year into practice into the races, especially the stage races I can do next year. That motivates me massively!

Chris finished by saying “I’d like to add a huge thank you to Nigel Mansell, Dave Povall, Sam Hayes and Ben ‘BigTime’ Jenkins along with all of my team mates from this year. Without them, none of this would’ve been the way it was!”

See you in 2014!!



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