Feature Interview: Max Stedman (Canyon Eisberg)

After a super strong second place in the tough Ryedale Grand Prix last Sunday, Canyon Eisberg’s Max Stedman’s next goal is a good GC place in the Tour of Britain starting on Sunday

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Feature Interview: Max Stedman (Canyon Eisberg)

Max is set to make his debut in the eight-day stage race following a strong twelve months in the saddle. The 22 year old tasted maiden UCI stage and general classification triumphs in the Tour of Quanzhou Bay in China last December and since then has shown his strengths at the Tour de Yorkshire as well as doing his country’s jersey proud in his Great Britain debut at the Tour of Alsace.

Talking about the run up to the Tour of Britain, Max says “I’ve had a mega run. It is the consistency I have been looking for and maybe mentally I have started to concentrate a bit more.”

Max has had moments in the past year which help his motivation for racing with the World Tour riders like the Tour of Almaty in 2017. “The Tour of Almaty was probably a big moment for me. I was really proud of that because I was only a minute-and-a-half down on Jakob Fuglsang on a big climb. Then (the win) in China (Quanzhou Bay) was a nice surprise and maybe a turning point in my head. I am now going into these races knowing I can perform at this level.”

“Tim (Elverson, team boss) has seen me through these steps and helped me grow as a rider, which is pretty cool. He has always had faith in me. I don’t really know what to expect from my first Tour of Britain. It is going to be hard. It is a stacked startlist, with three of the top four from the Tour de France!”

“Maybe 10th to 20th on GC would be a good ride. I know it’s a cliche but, to be honest, I am quite excited just to take it all in and take each day as it comes. I know Tim will want to get a good GC result and I want to do that for the team as well. It will be good to show myself over eight days. It is a big race with some really cool stages, so it is a great platform and a chance to put myself in the spotlight.”

Stedman completed his preparation for the Tour of Britain with a superb second place behind Graham Briggs in the Ryedale Grand Prix on Sunday. In grim conditions, he was outnumbered in the breakaway before jumping past British RR champion Connor Swift (Madison Genesis) to snatch second spot in the uphill sprint.

Stedman added: “I was very happy. I sort of knew that sprint was going to be Brigga’s cup of tea but to outgun Connor up that was pretty good.

Max has also had some advice from a legend in the sport, former Pro champion Keith Lambert: “Ater stage one of Alsace, the first thing Keith (now GB academy coach) said to me I did way too much work in the break. I had that in the back of my mind (at Ryedale), so I was playing it quite cannily. It was probably one of the smartest races I have ridden and I was dead chuffed with the result”.

“I have been putting in some hard hours, so it is nice seeing that pay off. I knew the form was pretty good but it is always nice to test it in a hard race like that.”

A good GC result in a race eight days long though means backing up the rides day-after-day. What is Max’s strategy? “I am learning not to spend too much, too early on as it’s long and hard. I know though how the legs respond after a few days and they don’t seem to get any worse”.

“Fatigued yes so when I wake up, I have that dead feeling in my legs but on the bike, once we get going, they seem to be fine. So I am quite excited for the race as it’s quite hilly, better than last year. I know I can do eight days and am looking forward to the Tour of Britain.”

The course for Max won’t be unknown territory either? “I have already done five stages!” he told me at the Ryedale GP. “I did the last eight k of the TTT at Whinlatter, and looked at the Bristol and Leamington Spa stages and know a lot of the Devon stage (profile above) as well through them being my uni training roads. The toughest I think is the Devon stage. It’s dead grippy with a lot of climbing in it and the last 60 k is scattered with a few punchy climbs along with some longer ones so I think that will be hard.”

The one climb everyone is talking about is Whinlatter (Cumbria) (Profiles above) which is used twice in the race, the first time in a short sharp Team Time Trial (14k) and then for the Summit Finish of stage 6 as well as a KoM climb mid stage.

“Whinlatter is steep on one side and the other pretty shallow with a steep bit in the middle, evened out by two false flats before and after” says Max. “I don’t think it will be too bad. The summit finish is an eight to ten minute climb but I reckon there will be days before that which will do GC damage as well so we won’t be going into the finish climb fresh at all. Of the two sides, the shorter steep side of that climb is my favourite …” Max added.

Talking about having experienced the highs and lows of being selected for the race, Max admits last year, whilst it was disappointing, it wasn’t unexpected. “Last year I wasn’t too gutted I wasn’t selected because the course didn’t suit me and I’d rather go well and do it than and do it half-heartedly. This whole Tour of Britain qualification thing makes it seem the whole season is dominated by this one race but it isn’t for me as there are loads of important races before it to get results in”.

Max finished by saying the preparation for the Tour of Britain has gone well, which his result at Ryedale showed. “The Tour of Alsace (12th on GC) with GB was good. I was in a jersey there for a few days and then after the race I had a few days easy and the last two weeks had a big block where I was using most races as training. We also had a race in Belgium which was like a nat B but with World Tour guys.”

That hard work is now done for Max, and having done the homework with the road book and his days on the Tour of Britain roads, the task now is just to arrive at the race fresh, healthy and ready to go. Whilst he has done races of this length before, the quality of the line-up is higher than anything he has had to race against and that just spices up the challenge for Max even more. Good luck to him and his team Canyon Eisberg.




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