Feature – Chatting to Chris Opie


Currently in Europe racing ahead of the Tour of Britain is Chris Opie of One Pro Cycling. VeloUK talks to him about the Tour of Britain

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Feature – Chatting to Chris Opie

One of the riders in the One Pro Cycling squad working hard to get selected for the Tour of Britain is Velo29 Stockton Grand Prix winner, Chris Opie.


Fifth in 2013 on the final stage in the Tour of Britain, the One Pro Cycling sprinter is hoping to get the chance to try to better that after a season which has seen some major changes in his life. One of those is moving from his beloved Cornwall to Oxfordshire.

The move didn’t happen until the period during the Pearl Izumi Tour Series but the idea seems to have come many months before. During the chat with Chris, I’d asked for favourite memories from the Tour of Britain and he recalls a stage last year when he was racing flat out and thinking, looking around and thinking “I should live here!”

“We rode up out of Newbury and over a ridge and dropped down into Oxfordshire and Wantage. I just remember looking around and thinking ‘wow, this is beautiful countryside’. We were in a long line, going really fast, and I remember riding next to Yanto (Barker) and saying ‘I love this area. I should join up with you at One Pro Cycling and move to this area because it’s perfect’. He smiled back at me and that was it.”

“I rode that same road on Wednesday out training!”


Talking with team coach Steve Benton at the Perfs this year

Such a move has not been that straight forward though as he has had to move away from family and friends but with teammates like Dexter Gardias being local to Chris, he’s had a tour guide to the area which has made that part of the move much easier. And being a bike rider finding himself riding through picturesque villages has given him the opportunity to take his wife and family there later in mini sight seeing trips.

This time of year though is much more about hard work than riding around looking at chocolate box houses. There is the small matter of getting selection for the Tour of Britain which in teams of 14 or so riders, isn’t easy when only six get to ride the race.

“It is always a tense time for teams and riders at this time of the year” says Chris. “Riders will always support each other but there will also be competition to do the training rides better than anyone else or do better in the races than anyone else”.

“Around the time of the Tour of Britain, some riders start to suffer from injuries, tiredness, illness and so on and so the team starts to self select itself. That’s not happened with ours but from past experience that can be the case”.

“At the moment, everyone is on a huge block of training (as are other teams) and everyone is very competitive with it judging by the strava rides I see put up!”

One Pro Cycling’s coach is Steve Benton who Chris has worked with for six years. “For Steve, it isn’t just about results” says Chris. “He’ll really analyse everything to the nth degree about what sort of job a rider can do at the Tour of Britain. Certain riders are not results orientated but they do a fantastic job for the team which people don’t really see apart from their own teammates”.

“That will be taken into consideration, how strong they are and how they can recover day to day but it won’t be an easy process”.


Hard Yards
One of the things that I’ve heard over and over about the training the riders are set by their coach Steve Benton is how tough it is. Chris has been working with Steve for six years and admits they do get a chance to just ride the bike but the intervals are hard work.

“This morning I did an easyish ride although it was still quite specific as in you are not allowed to go too hard or too easy!”

“There are times though when we do question whether he cares for us as humans! We know though that going through those bad days will make us stronger for it and that is why he sets such horrific training”.

“The worst one we had to do was two very long days back to back resulting in 14 hours on the road over the two days which was something I’d never done before. On the second day, there were intervals as well and the power numbers were so much lower because you are so tired from the day before.”

“My favourite story of Steve coaching me though was 2011 before I did the Tour Series at Aberystwyth and he’d given me these intervals to do. I looked at them and thought these will be easy. By the time I got to the last one, I couldn’t lift my arms or barely sit on my bike. I remember sitting in a hedge, not quite crying, but I was there for 15 minutes trying to gather my thoughts to ride the five miles home. It was horrible and it hasn’t got any easy!”

Being set intervals is one thing but it’s also how deep a rider can go during those intervals that sets apart the champions from the runners up. “You learn to deal with it eventually” says Chris who obviously goes very deep in his training.


Season Goal – Tour of Britain
For Chris, the Tour of Britain is a race that he has focused on all year. “Once I’d had a break at the end of June, the second half of the season was always going to be focused on the Tour of Britain” he says.

Chris explained how he always looks forward to the second half of the season. “In the first half of the season, the races are squeezed in together, the weather isn’t good and not as people come to watch as they do in the summer. The second half of the season is a lot more enjoyable. The races are bigger even though there isn’t that many”.

As well as the Prems like Stockton which he won, there are the UCI races like Ride London in early August and then some UCI races in Europe in the lead up to the Tour of Britain. On Tuesday he rode in France where his teammate Marcin Bialoblocki was sixth in the Grand Prix des Marbriers (1.2), a race Chris was 4th in last year.

On the weekend, Chris will be returning to the town in Holland where the club he rode for there is based to do a race; Ronde van Midden-Nederland (2.2) 

“I’m going to an area which I know better than where I currently live so it is exciting” explained Chris. “It’s like going home really” he adds.

“For us, these races in Europe are big races in their own right and are races we want to perform in. The fact that we have trained hard before them will help as they are long races like the stages in the Tour of Britain will be. We definitely go to them to get results and they’re not just for training”.

Speedie Opie
Chris is one of the fastest sprinters in the country and so that is his job in One Pro Cycling, to win bunch kicks. Chris admits his sprinting is back to where it was in 2013, maybe better.

“Last year wasn’t very good because of the illness but this year, had we not had to ride the way we had to ride at Canary Wharf (read about that race here) then I genuinely believe I would have been able to win there again”.

“I had the fastest lap on the final lap which shows despite recovering from the huge effort we’d made, how fast I was coming towards the finish”. In the CiCLE Classic, it was the first opportunity I got to sprint with Steele (Von Hoff, NFTO) and I punctured quite close to the finish. That took a lot out of me to get back”.

“As for Stockton, to win knowing I had already won 75 metres from the finish shows how fast I am”.

Chris is also confident that should he get selected for the Tour of Britain, that he will have a strong and well drilled team behind him. “We showed at Stockton when it comes putting a sprint train out there, we’re the best UK team”.

Asked what he is looking forward too at the Tour, quick as a flash he replies “Not raining! The chance of that though going up to Scotland and the north of England at that time of year, based on past experience, it could be pretty grim so I’m looking to make sure I have the best waterproofing for my feet and hands!”

“As for stages, I’m looking forward to the final day in London again as I really like that stage. On top of that, we have the One House Party which will be overlooking the circuit so it’s going to be a major event, probably the pinnacle of the season, having a lot of One Pro Cycling members in the One Pro House overlooking the circuit. That will be exciting”.


The Cornish flag and a proud Chris at the start of a Tour of Britain stage.

Saving the legs …
But saving the legs for a specific stage like that final one is tough in the Tour of Britain on the British roads. “It is not like some races abroad where the tarmac is smooth and the gradients are not too severe. You are having to pedal the whole time and you feel like you are fighting against your whole body weight most of the time which makes the race hard and quite wearing”.

“When you’re not racing to win every day, you have to be careful not to switch off too much if you’re just aiming to get through the stage as against racing the stage. I think if you approach it focusing totally on the goal ahead of you that can be quite mentally draining as well because you’re trying to work out when it’s right to make the effort to stay with the group or drop into a group that will cruise gently to the finish.”

But saving his legs isn’t something Chris wants to do as he admits he would love to get in a break and spend the day off the front. “Even though I know it would be horrible and hurt it would be cool to do. But realistically, I expect I’d be advised against that should I be in the team”.

Asking Chris what is the most special thing about riding the Tour of Britain, he replies “The fact that people associate you doing the Tour of Britain and being a good bike rider. I remember in 2011 when I was in team that didn’t do it, I felt left out because everyone you race against day in day out, were doing it and you feel you need to be a part of that as it’s part of your job”.

“But should I not get selected, I will know the team has chosen the correct team. That is one thing you can be sure of knowing the process they go through in One Pro Cycling. They will never select the wrong team for a job. I think all of us would tear off our right arm to be a part of it though …”


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