Interview: Harry Tanfield

Harry Tanfield, in a break on stage three, 7th in the sprint stage 4 and then on ONE gear, 14th against worlds best in the time trial – he’s also in the break today!

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Interview: Harry Tanfield

This morning before the start of the stage, with the news that one of the key sponsors was going into administration but that his team were still okay for next season, we spoke to a rider who has been a revelation on the Tour of Britain, Harry Tanfield.

Not only getting in a breakaway and getting a combativity award, he also sprinted with the best on stage 4 and then in the stage 5 time trial, was the best placed domestic rider with a super strong ride as you will see from the chat we had from him. Today (Friday), Harry is also in the breakaway, a very strong one and it will be interesting to see what he can do from there. … continued after advert


Asked how he felt about the result, Harry told VeloUK, “I looked at the result at the finish and saw the names behind me like Castroviejo and world tour guys like that; guys I’ve put money on before for stage wins in the Vuelta, and I go and put 30 seconds into him; it’s outrageous.“

Harry’s performance was all the more amazing when he found out his electronic gears weren’t working before the start and he was going to have ride a single gear …. It was quite an astonishing ride and one I am sure would make WorldTour teams sit up and take notice. Another factor was the skinsuit which others have said he could have gone even quicker with, figures of 15 to 20 seconds being bandied about.

Harry explained “it wasn’t ideal before the start. I only had one gear and I didn’t even have the skin suit zipped up as there was so much was going on and I was so frustrated. Carole (starter) was counting down and I’m there, no gears, no warm up…”

“After my recce, my gears weren’t working very well. They (mechanics) did everything they could to fix it but in the end the group set shut down so I was given the choice of a 13 or 14 with the 58 chain ring… it was tough decision but I wanted to do well and I took the 13.”

“In the race, I carried the speed quite well and it was the drag up to the roundabout with about 5k to go that hurt me. There was a horrible headwind and I found if you dropped below 85 rpm it really hits you and I was properly doing muscle damage but I had to press as hard as I could to keep the momentum.”

“Once I got it up to speed, it was fine. On the way out, it was cruisey. I caught Blain at the time check, and luckily I had Mark McNally as my carrot on the way home and was sprinting after him and caught him on the line. It was good to have that carrot to chase because I was horribly over geared into the headwind.”

Harry added that it was better than doing it on a road bike though, his only other choice and then says he was probably averaging 430 watts or so but because the power metre hadn’t been calibrated, he wasn’t sure of the exact figure.

Harry, just behind the likes of Gaviria, Viviani and Kristoff in the sprin

It is all the more remarkable because Harry hasn’t been saving his legs for the time trial. “The legs were nailed after the stage I did in the break (stage 3) and I felt horrendous on the sprint day (stage 4) when I just sat in and then gave it everything with eight minutes to go to be in the right position for the sprint”.

“When I look at my power files, I had quite a lot of gas in the final five minutes of the race even though I felt terrible. I did all right top 10 tenning it.”

“It wasn’t if I had built my year around a flat 10 mile time trial in this event. We are so lucky with our sponsors that we have such good equipment, the bikes are incredible and all the support from the team I get so to have that happen 20 minutes before it wasn’t ideal but I kept it together and got on the bike and change my goals.”

“I knew I had to ride within myself on certain sections, press on in other areas. On one hand it helped because I didn’t go out as hard as I might have on bigger gears. And likewise, on the way back, I might not have gone as fast if I had given too much on the way out. It was what it was but at least I have time to get it sorted before the next UCI time trials.”
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After he had made the break and spoke to VeloUK, Harry had said that was a few boxes ticked (breakaway and podium) but he wanted a result too. He got that on stage 4 in the sprint.

“I came into the race with the intention I want to get on the podium (he has) and I want a top 10 or 15. When I looked at the time trial , I had never seen so many testers in a race before. I was 14th so I wasn’t top 10 but I was only five or six seconds off it and with working gears, I may have been able to pull that back.”

“I felt my best result would be in the time trial but it’s been in the sprint (7th). To get the top 10 before the TT was mind blowing. Best ever result I’ve had. I have watched the finish a few times and where I went right and where I went wrong, it could have gone wrong and I got boxed in like Caleb Ewan and Chris (Opie) have”.

Harry, second the left with his team

“I got lucky but then I look and wonder why didn’t I follow Kristoff through that gap, but these guys do it day in, day out where as we’re riding prems and don’t get this level of racing which is completely different.”

The result in the sprint is all the more remarkable as I’ve heard many times its getting to the front that is the hard part so what was harder, getting to the front or the sprint?

“I have had a lot harder sprints in the past like the pro kermesses I have done. I did about 500 watts for three minutes and it was downhill with two and half k to go. I tucked in and got myself low and the guys at the front were smashing it and I was coasting ,so it was sound”.

“Then it got a bit cagey at the end. Because everyone is fighting for position with 3k to go, you get to the last 800 metres, and unless there are leadout trains there, everyone is fisted. You’re already going dead quick, you’re coming to 500 to go at 50 k an hour and then you have to go again and that’s where the real sprinters come out.”

“I tried to follow the wheels but some CCC guy nudged me and it killed a few miles an hour and it’s not what you need. Once you lose that moment, you don’t get it back sprinting against these guys. I’m not trying to come round but just hold the wheel!”

Good luck to Harry in his breakaway today….



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