Feature: Team KGF

A chat to the latest UCI Track Team to come from Great Britain to showcase the talent that races outside Team GB

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Feature: Team KGF

For many, breaking into the Great Britain Cycling Team Track Team proves a seemingly impossible task and the only way to showcase the talent that sits outside the national team is with a UCI team and that is just what Team KGF are doing.

To find out more, we did a Q & A with the team …

– When did the idea of a track team come about?
Team KGF – Off the back of our success at the 2017 Nationals, we all wanted to keep pushing on to see what we could achieve if we went full bore, and who doesn’t want to wear their national champs stripes!?

It is a very privileged position to be in, and we wanted to make full use of the stripes that are often not show off due to a lack of UK based competitions. The team had great potential to be producing world class performances, given that our winning time for the Team Pursuit at the Nationals would have been highly competitive at the Rio 2016 Olympics and many UCI World Cups, all following only a handful of weeks preparation.

– Which events and which world cups will the team be targeting?
Team KGF – We will be targeting the Tissot UCI World Cup series, primarily in the 4km Team Pursuit. Our current calendar is to attend Poland, Manchester and Belarus. If we can get the funding together we may go to others. Manchester is the only World Cup which includes a timed individual event, the 1km TT.

We have an intra-team battle between Dan and Jonny for who will take the single spot allocated to the team. Dan is reigning British champion for the kilo, but Jonny is in great form having ridden a 1:01.8 at Glasgow GP last weekend.

Unfortunately no world cups have a 4km individual pursuit, so the team will head to Portugal in December for a UCI Class 1 meet to race the 4km IP.

– Is the Team Pursuit the key event for the team?
Team KGF – Yes, but we also have our own targets and ambitions as individuals. Charlie and Dan are aiming for English selection for Commonwealth Games in the 4km IP and TP, Jonny is aiming for Scottish selection for Commonwealth Games in the 1km TT, and Tipper is chasing a podium in the 4km IP at 2018 Nationals.

Glasgow Sprint GP was a good benchmark for the team. We underperformed in the team pursuit, but learnt a lot from it, which was the purpose of the weekend. In the individual events we really shone. Jonny broke the Scottish kilo record with a 1:01.8, and Dan & Charlie both rode world class individual pursuit times of 4:16.9 and 4:14.9 respectively. Unfortunately Tipper was in quarantine after getting ill on Saturday, but his times in training show he will be stepping up this winter too.

– Has it been a steep learning curve getting the team pursuit right technically when there are countrys who still struggle to match those times you have done already?
Team KGF – We haven’t actually focused too heavily on the technicalities of the TP until recently. Now we have more time and resources with the team moving to Derby, we’ve been working on the technical aspects, including some over-speed work on the wheel.

This is probably is our weakest area at the moment, but the advantage of being just a four man squad is that we aren’t continually swapping riders in and out so we become quite adapted to each rider’s style and line. Everyone knows the team aim and how to achieve it, so we are all pushing in the same direction with no internal politics or dynamics in competition for a ride.

– How big a gear are you riding in the team pursuit and does everyone ride the same gear or does it vary for each rider?
Team KGF – It’s something we’re continually playing with, especially as our speeds keep increasing throughout training. There’s some good (and interesting) optimisation to be done around that, especially when you look at each rider’s physiology. All top secret in the secret piggy club though!

– How different is riding a team pursuit to a time trial – four sprints?
Team KGF – Not even four sprints! We ride it a little different to most teams, with sound logic behind it. It works. This does mean each rider only has a maximum of 2 turns on the front. We play the hand we have with the riders we’ve got. It’s been a nice challenge optimising it all.
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– Is it full time now on the track to prepare for the world cups?
Team KGF – The training is now fully geared towards the track and our preparation. However, none of us are full time riders and all have other commitments. Dan and Jonny both work for the cycle-sport aerodynamic company WattShop, Jacob coaches riders for Jacob Tipper Performance Coaching and Charlie is a full time mechanical engineering student at University of Derby.

– How much time on the track are you having to spend and is that matched by a lot of road work as well at this point?
Team KGF – We’re on the track twice a week currently. We would always like more track time, there’s so much more we could do if we had the opportunity. This does mean we inevitably spend a reasonable amount of time on the road, but that’s a lot less specific and structured than our track work.

We’ve got some great support from Derbyshire Institute of Sport who have been giving us world class support in the gym and with physiotherapy. That’s probably one of the big performance differentiators we’ve received.

– How will success be measured at the world cups?
Team KGF – We have our own ambitious target times, which are dependent on the race day conditions but results wise we are not just going there to make up the numbers. We want to be highly competitive and push the big nations for the podium spots.

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– Has there been any advice from team GB or perhaps riders who have been there and done world cups?

Team KGF – We have pretty much taken this project on off our own backs. Whilst the cycling scene is small, we have used our resources through universities, British manufacturers and friends in the sport.

It’s been very enjoyable and eye-opening to pull together the best that Britain has to offer. There are a lot of very intelligent and innovative people and businesses out there, from component manufacturers through to sports science PhD researchers. It’s truly awesome to work side by side with them.

We haven’t had any direct assistance from British Cycling, but I guess they’re our competition at world cups! If they could take our turbos out to Poland though, that would be awesome and save us a bit of on our air fare LoL.

– Finally, has the line-up been carefully chosen – i.e., fast kilo rider with a mix of riders for other three spots.
Team KGF – The formation of the team was more of a chance encounter. Dan and Charlie were already riding for Planet X Northside in 2016. Dan was training at Derby Arena for the 4km IP and Kilo.

Whilst there he spotted the ability of Jonny Wale, who was training for the BUCS Track Championships and managed to convince him that he wanted to ride in a TP squad at nationals.
“Transfer season” was just coming to an end and Brother NRG had managed to sign Jacob Tipper, so he was the final piece of the puzzle. Since then we have used our own specific strategies to make what we have work as best as possible.

Thank you to the team and good luck to them on the International stage



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