Q & A Feature with Tom Barras


Q & A Feature with NFTO DS Tom Barras who reveals a new signing and whether the route of the Tour de Yorkshire is harder than 2015!

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Q & A Feature with Tom Barras


1. What is the big announcement then Tom?
Tom: The announcement is that NFTO have bolstered our squad this week with the signing of ex-Raleigh GAC rider Liam Stones. Liam was expecting to be in Sports-Grub colours in 2016, but the team has unfortunately been in difficulty recently. Liam contacted us last week and thankfully we were in a position to be able to help. Liam will strengthen both our road and criterium roster and we hope that he can shine in the Tour Series in May and June. Liam travels to Spain with the rest of the NFTO team next week.

2. What training do the riders in NFTO do in February when there is no racing – more and more hours in the saddle or move on to race efforts?
Tom: We are lucky that the team partners with TrainSharp coaching so the lads have expert guidance when it comes to training. Many of the riders have already been training in Lanzarote and Spain and we will hone their prep with an official NFTO camp near Calpe in the coming days. It’s vital now that the riders hit the season with good form as some of the toughest races are in March and April. Gone are the days of racing yourself to fitness!


3. What is the riders impression of the Tour de Yorkshire course after their recce? Harder than last year and what will be the toughest stage?
Tom: The route is probably slightly tougher than last year’s edition but a lot depends on how the stages are actually raced. Stage 1 (Beverley to Settle) starts off fairly tame on paper, but add a crosswind into the mix and it could easily define the overall winner. Later on in the stage they hit Greenhow Hill and I’ve no doubt the race will blow to pieces as there is not much opportunity for the race to come back together before Settle.

Stage 2 (Otley to Doncaster) is the flat’ stage but again, if a team decides to split the race up over the early hills around Harewood it could be a very hard stage. Stage 3 from Middlesbrough to Scarborough is absolutely brutal. I rode the event last year and this stage was tough but this year the climbs are relentless. After Robin Hood¹s Bay there are another two bergs’ which will tear the race to pieces.

4. How often have the riders got together in January?
Tom: We ran a Tour De Yorkshire recce camp in January to give the riders a chance to view the route as a team. We think this is vitally important for such a prestigious event. We stayed in Otley and rode each stage which gave the new lads opportunity to get to meet everyone in an environment we’re all comfortable with. Most of the riders have also been abroad in groups of 3-4 in December and January. We’re a pretty close knit team and try and keep the core of the team together each year.

5. How long will the training camp be and who controls what training the riders do — is individual coaches or a team training camp?
Tom: This second camp is 8 days long which should fall nicely into 2 little training blocks with an easier day in the middle. The team car and vans are going down to Spain beforehand so the riders will be well supported. Myself and dad (Sid) will be picking the route each day and there will be focus on team building and specific training workouts.


Ian Bibby, one of the teams winners in 2015

6. What sort of drills do the riders do on a training camp for sprints and so on?
Tom: Typically a camp in Spain gives the riders opportunity to work on their aerobic fitness as the long climbs lend themselves to threshold training. That said, we have intentionally held the camp later and nearer to the racing season so there will also be focus on more specific skills such as lead out efforts, sprints and a few smash-up races back to base. The riders are competitive animals and it works well to let them off the leash sometimes and have a bit of a sort-out on the road!

7. When will the team have their first race together?
Tom: We travel straight to Belgium and Holland from Spain so the racing kicks off immediately, hence the late race-focused training camp. We have a good international program for 2016 which will see NFTO line up against the best riders in the world right from the off.


8. What are the team’s main targets for 2016?
Tom: We will continue to try and win more prestigious events! Over the last few years NFTO has been competitive on the UK professional scene throughout the season, but we have a knack of peaking and winning events such as Ride London, Rutland Cicle Clasic, National Crit champs and a handful of Star Trophy races.

UK teams don’t tend to have much more than 10-12 riders (us included) so we have to be clever in our selection of targets throughout the year. In 2016 we hope to be at our best for the Tour De Yorkshire, Ras (in Ireland), Tour Series, Star Trophies (which we won two of last year) and of course a massive aim is the Tour of Britain. With Josh Edmonson, Ian Bibby and Johnny McEvoy on board we have a team capable of performing in any hilly stage race but hopefully we have enough strength in depth to be competitive in the televised criteriums too. Away from cycling, (NFTO owner) John Wood is looking at climbing K2 and a number of other summits over the next two years.

9. How is Tom Barras enjoying the role of DS
Tom: It’s a change! I was particularly enjoying racing with NFTO last year but when John offered me the role in September last year I knew that it was too good an opportunity to turn down. All the time I’ve been racing I have owned and ran two of my own companies so I am used to spinning plates and still being able to focus on cycling.

Hopefully that will stand me in good stead for the management roll this year. Up to now I’m enjoying it. I have John and Marcus (Greenwood) directing me but much of what I do is just backwards engineering how a team should function. I’m spending a lot of time planning the season and mapping out which riders, staff and vehicles need to be where at a certain time.

We’ve got quite an exciting race calendar and a strong team so it will be interesting to see how the lads get on as I’m sat in a team car with my dad! John (Wood) has a lot going
on at the moment and is comfortable with me and Sid (with Marcus behind the scenes) running the team. John says he is confident of our cycling pedigree and has handed us the reins so that he can go and do other projects. John is passionate about cycling and his team and will be with us at most of the major events.



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