Tour of Britain Interview – Ian Wilkinson


Second on a stage in 2011, Ian Wilkinson of Raleigh is gunning to go one better in the 2014 Tour of Britain

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Tour of Britain Interview – Ian Wilkinson

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This is always a nervous time of the year for riders in the British UCI teams as they cross their fingers and legs they are in their team’s Tour of Britain squad. For Ian Wilkinson, or Superman as he is also known, he was one of the chosen six in the Raleigh team which after his year of illness, is a big relief.


“It was on my mind especially having been ill for a while” Ian explained on Tuesday. “I wasn’t exactly thinking I had a spot, there was never any complacency there. Some injury and illness in the team has helped select the riders and fortunately I am in there. I am looking forward to it so I can make amends for a shabby season for myself”.

Ian adds that he doesn’t think the 2014 version will be massively different to last years won by Bradley Wiggins. “The same big boys will be there and the fact its changed category is just a benefit for us being able to staying in the same hotel for a few nights instead of travelling around the country for five hours”.

Ian made his debut in 2009 riding for Halfords and on the first stage he ever rode was top 10 (9th). Since then he’s had a couple more and also been part of a break that has stayed away which is rare in the race. It was in that break on stage 7 (2011) of the race he was second.

The main thing I remember Ian for is getting into breaks which isn’t easy but he’s done that at least four times I remember, probably more. Remembering his Tour’s so far, Ian admits that being there for the kill on that stage in 2011 was indeed special as was being named the most combative rider.

“Last year though was my favourite in terms of being involved in the race” says Ian. “Getting in two breakaways, I was confident of making a mark on that Llanberis stage (through the mountains of Wales) but the race came back together and Cav won”.


Ian (right) in his first Tour of Britain in 2009 making it into a move

Talking about making the moves, Ian says “you have to have a little luck getting in the right break and then you have to go so hard, brutally so riding over the limit and if it works, brilliant but you have to be able to recover and continue that effort”.

“There is a period in trying to get away when you are thinking this effort is unsustainable but then once the gap is there, you know the race will be shut down behind so you can press on. Everyone settles down and looks at who is there”.

“You have to think about the terrain coming up and who is going to go for the climbs if there is a jersey in the group and what’s in it for me. You are looking for the gap to come out quickly so the team car can come up and you can have a chat and see what the manager thinks”.

“On the stage to Haytor (2013), 99 times out of 100, that was always going to come back so that was a day of getting out there and achieving what you can, picking up sprints and getting TV time”.

Ian admits he’s not ridden the stages of the 2014 race but like many, has been looking at the route book. The race starts and finishes with a kermesse and with the British season being crit based in the main, that will give the riders here some comfort perhaps I asked?


This is the aim – the podium in the Tour of Britain which Ian Wilkinson climbed onto in 2011 after getting a Combativity award when racing for Endura.

“Agreed” says Ian. “What I have got is that punch to be able to fight it out which comes from the crits and that helps with positioning. A race like this will be controlled a fair bit more than normal mid race so will actually be a bit more relaxed”.

“The more sprint teams the better too. It means there could be more of a bun fight at the finish. If it was just Cav’s team, they are very dominant and difficult to get on the back of but if there are three or four options, then you can float around on a few different wheels and one day it might just come off”.

“I am confident we can run a finish or two. It’s just a case of getting lucky when you don’t have the type of lead out the World Tour teams will have”.

Asked if it’s like being a kid in a sweetshop, sprinting against the Worlds best after a season of racing largely against the same riders, Ian replies, “Yes, it is. It’s a chance to measure yourself against the best in the world and the opportunity to get stuck in. You find out how bloody good they are but also, they are human and that you can compete with them if you’re on a good day”.

“We can’t compete with their preparation of having races that are longer and harder than ours but it’s not out of the question to compete with them.”


Stage 7, 2011 Tour of Britain into Sandringham and Superman delivers a royal performance to go so close to a win by a British based rider.

Coaching works…
Ian explained that while he hasn’t got those stage races to ride, he has been able to get in some solid work set by his coach Steve Benton. “My season has been somewhat blighted by illness most of the way through the prime months with the Tour Series etc. From April onwards, so there were a few months of having my head in my hands suffering”.

“I have been doing some racing which hasn’t really helped me at all but as a professional you have to do them. I haven’t been fit enough really so missing a weekends racing was good so I was able to do some decent training before Newport and Ipswich where it appears I found my legs again”.

Last weekend, it was a decent length race for the riders, 200km but one that had a chaotic and dangerous finish which prevented him from getting in the mix of the bunch sprint. “Ipswich was about keeping Yanto (Barker, Premier Calendar leader) at the front to get a result and maybe get one myself.”

“Then, with 800 metres to that barrier got in the way. If I could stick that barrier up some one’s …. That was horrific at that point in the race. One minute, we were at the back of the police motorbikes and the next, where is everyone and where are we going”.

Ian and a lot of riders had faced the end of an unmanned barrier which was there because of tram lines apparently and with no-one to guide them past it, Ian, and a lot of others, went the wrong side and ended up behind the crowd! Race over.

“It was disappointing not to have had a clean sprint against those guys but I will be going for the sprints in the Tour of Britain for sure” Ian says.

The day we spoke to Ian, he was having an easy day after some big rides and with just a few days to go, it’s more rest and home work for a rider who will for sure make his mark on this year’s Tour of Britain … we just don’t know when and how… watch this space!


Ian (right) in a break during the 2013 Tour of Britain.

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