Feature: Ian Bibby – New Goals, More racing

When in Australia recently, VeloUK caught up with one of the country’s top professional riders over the last decade, Ian Bibby.

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Feature: Ian Bibby – New Goals, More racing

When in Australia recently, VeloUK caught up with one of the country’s top professional riders over the last decade, Ian Bibby.

The Preston rider has been a professional for almost a decade riding for teams including Halfords, NFTO, Madison Genesis and ‘Griffo’s Motorpoint. His palmere’s is littered with victories including the British Circuit Race and Cyclo-Cross Championships, wins in international stage races, podiums on stages of the Tour of Britain and his share of prems as well.

Looking at Cycling Archives, it’s a fascinating browse to see Ian’s career highlights over the years. A Junior ‘cross title in 2003 and 2004 and Under 23 cross champion in 2007. In 2009, he was second in the Mersey Roads Two Day and then in 2010 a lot of highlights! A win in the cross champs as a senior and a win also in the Cinturón Ciclista Internacional a Mallorca.

In fact, 2010 is full of top five rides in Prems as well as a second on stage 3 of the Tour of Britain. In 2011, Ian repeated the stage win in Cinturón Ciclista Internacional a Mallorca and won the Tour of Reservoir. A top 10 in RideLondon and two top 10s in the Tour of Britain (stages 3 and 4) back up what many have said to me and that Ian should and could have been a good World Tour pro.

Some lean years followed but 2015 saw him win the first ever Chorley Grand Prix, followed by a stage in the RAS and a win in the Ryedale GP. 2016 was even better, with wins in three Prems; the Manx International, the Wiltshire GP and his second in a row Ryedale GP.

No wonder he was snapped up by John Herety for his team in 2017. Many have said Ian could be and should be a World Tour Pro. Who knows, that could happen if he comes up trumps in a big enough race to catch the attention of a team but for now, in 2017, Ian’s season will be different to those in the past.

“At NFTO, it was relaxed and there was no stress involved” Ian explained “but this year will be different in that there will be a lot more racing, a lot of stage races abroad, and I think I will triple the race days I do compared to last year.”

His team have a global sponsor in JLT and that means the team will be racing around the world and have already spent a few months in Australia preparing for the year ahead. It’s been a good start too, for them and Ian, with the North West rider winning the Bay Crits series. The team though are now on their way home and to the cold of Britain.

Returning here from Australia is something I did three weeks ago myself but as I’m not having to train and race in the cold, the fact it hasn’t affected me much doesn’t count. But what does Ian think of those who feel the riders returning from having trained in the warm weather will just suffer in the cold weather?

‘Bibs’ has already done the Australian ‘warm weather training’ experience a few years ago and so is probably the best placed person to answer whether it’s a good idea of not? “Last time I did it, I was away for four months” he says.

“A lot of people advised against it saying there’d be distractions in Australia with the sun and the beach but I thought I’d be more likely to get the training done and then be free to do other things including rest rather than have to try and do it in six hours daylight in England riding in rain or snow.”

“So I did it and it was good. I came home and whilst some had said I’d struggle to get back into to it, to be honest, you come home, wrap up like mad and within a week, it’s okay. I came back last time just before Chorley and I won that”.

“I think if you get off a plane and the next day raced in snow, it would be a struggle but if you give yourself a week or two, you’ll be fine. The kit nowadays is that good compared to five years ago, it’s not that bad if you wear the right stuff.”

Talking about the efforts in the heat, Ian explained “it hurts in a different way when it’s really hot like it was today (40 degrees C). You’re starved of oxygen I think and the efforts feel harder. It’s just different, like training at altitude”.

For Ian and his team, the training was important for their performance goal of a good GC ride in the Sun Tour and the New Zealand Cycle Classic. For Ian, his target was the Sun Tour which finished on Sunday where he was 11th overall. Prior to the race, he explained that events like that are different to here in that it’s about hanging in there with the likes of Chris Froome where as in British races, it’s up to the leading riders like Ian to make the racing and see if the others can hang in there.

He couldn’t have got off to a better start with his new team and a new season, winning the Bay Crits. Quizzed on his preparation for the Aussie season, Ian explained “I went on holiday after the Tour of Britain to America and Asia and we had a really good time. I needed that. It helps me to get to a point where I can say right, I need to get going again”.

“We got back end of November and the next day I was straight into it. I cut out the rolling around riding for two or three weeks and went straight into efforts and training properly.”

Looking back …
When asked what his highlight was from 2016, Ian says “it was nice to win Ryedale again. I planned my season around hitting the year really well early on because in the UK there are load of good races crammed into a month or two and if you have good form and can win two or three races, it makes a good season”.

“If you get ill, or you’re not going well, you end up chasing like mad the last half of the year. So I planned on going well early season and that worked for the Isle of Man and Lincoln as well as Velothon too. I then chilled out and tried to win another Prem at the back end of the season. I just wanted to try and be consistent and so winning Rydedale was good”.

And the toughest races? “Some of the days in the Tour of Britain were pretty grippy which was a shock. We do a year of one day races and then at the end of the season, we have a stage race and so it’s hard mentally knowing you haven’t done one all year. So day four or five you can find it can be tough. Ride London was pretty hard too and there were some parts of that I had to dig pretty deep.”

On the subject of warm up, Ian, unsurprisingly, isn’t that bothered by the warm up before a race. “I have never really struggled with needing a warm up. I think it’s the ‘cross and MTB background where I never had any trouble going flat stick from the gun. But if I do a warm up, I normally do 20 minutes on the turbo and ramp it up for five minutes. I don’t generally do it for the road races though, just the crits and something which is going to be intense”.

Final question, I asked Ian if there was a race he expects to be doing that he could be given the win here and now, which one would he choose, he replied “… the nationals and a jersey! It’s on the Isle of Man and I won there last year. I’ve got some stage races going into it so I should be good for it although it is a different race with all the World Tour pros from Sky and so on. I’ll certainly be up for it though”.

Ian then added that a win in the race in Philadelphia (America) would be cool too.

Having started the year with a win, and already got a very tough stage race in his legs, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year goes and where the season takes him with his new team. We wish him lots of luck on the road and look forward to seeing him racing in the UK at some time in 2017!




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