Feature Interview: Adam Kenway

Chatting to Adam Kenway who will have his third season with Cherie Pridham Racing (Vitus Pro Cycling) in 2019 and is looking to win back his National Hill Climb title

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Feature Interview: Adam Kenway

Whilst the new signings for the Vitus Pro Cycling team are not going to be announced until later in November, one re-signing will be Adam Kenway who will have his third season with Cherie Pridham Racing.

The former British Hill Climb Champion is keeping busy winning and getting podiums in the current Hill Climb season where he’s also had the odd course record as well showing his form is good. Asked about hill climbs, Adam explained “the hill climb season for me is one of those love-hate relationships. I hate everything about it until I have finished and then I enjoy it!”

The National Championships in a weeks time (28th) is a key event for Adam where he’ll be seeded second and after a course change for the event, Adam is pleased that it is a course he knows well being closer to home than the one that was going to be used. Adam explained that with the competition for the win so close, knowing the climb well will be key to doing well.

For the race, his team Vitus Pro Cycling are supplying him a special Vitus frame which is the same as he was using during the road season but having had the paint work removed, the saving of a few hundred grams is one marginal gain that Adam welcomes. Asked about the championships where this year there are over 300 entries, Adam says it’s an interesting event.

“It’s an event where you get roadies like me doing it as well as specialists like Dan Evans and others, and it’s a really nice event because it’s just you against the hill really and its really competitive. I have ridden the championship course quite a few times as its relatively close to me and it suits me. I would have probably been happier if it was on the long course though”.

As for the crowd which creates a very special atmosphere at the championships, Adam says “there will be more watching than most Premier Calendar road races as it’s not often the crowd can see some one suffering so much going so slow!”

Third season with Cherie Pridham Racing
2019 will be Adam’s third season racing for team owner Cherie Pridham. In 2018, Adam was one of the more experienced riders in the team which was dominated by young riders. Asked how it was for the young riders, he explained “it is hard to tell the young riders just how difficult a season at the highest level in Britain will be.”

“They were racing a lot more this year” he added. “During their racing as juniors, they may only have had one big race once a month where as in a team like ours, they were doing big races every week to start with and then in the Tour Series, it can be three or four times a week which is hard mentally and physically and it is also amazing how much the travelling takes out of you as well.”

Racing up the Cow and Calf in the Tour of Yorkshire

“Okay, all you are doing is sitting in a car but you’re not at home recovering properly like you would with just the one race in a week. It takes practice to recover well when you’re not at home.”

“They also have to deal with the pressure. In a team at this level, they’re expected to be up there and do a job so if you’re being dropped in races, that’s another added pressure when the next week you go out not wanting to get dropped and so you can see riders trying a bit too hard.”

Adam then explained how the level in Britain is a lot higher than it has been which makes it even more difficult for the young riders, many first year seniors, to make their mark. “The British scene is not like it was ten years ago. You only have to look at the names in the peloton, Ed Clancy – Olympic champion, Jon Mould – Commonwealth Games medallist) and Ian Bibby – 6th on GC in Yorkshire. World Tour class riders and yet riders who don’t stand out above everyone else in the domestic races.”

Highlights for Adam
The 2018 season for Adam was a roller coaster with a lot of highs early on before he came crashing down literally and it took a while to get back that form.

“Until halfway through the Tour Series when I broke my wrist and jaw, I was really happy with the way I was riding this season. I won the KoM at the Cicle classic after being in the break all day there. At Chorley, I was in the break from the start and in the Tour of Yorkshire I was going much better than I expected.”

CiClE Classic on the gravel at the front

“The year before, I was able to ride round in the bunch where as this time I felt I had good legs and on the second stage when it kicked off, I think there was only 40 of us left and I was like, ‘I’m still there’. It came back together and then going up the Cow and Calf, that was one of my highlights. I was looking around and there was around 50 of us left and I’m thinking, I shouldn’t be in such a select group of riders.”

“I was sitting at the back which was a mistake though because if I’d been sitting in the front of the group, I could have finished even higher because people who had done their job were coming out the back and there job was to take as many of the other riders with them so I was going round riders again and again”.

“Then, the next day (stage 3), I got in the break and that was a nice day out. The weather was amazing, the crowds were amazing and it was a Saturday so people could watch it on tele all day at home. Again, it was hard to get into that move but ended up being a good day out”.
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Adam took that good form into the Tour Series with a sixth in the first round at Redditch and other good rides followed until he crashed and broke his wrist and jaw. “I made the mistake of getting straight back on the bike after that crash because I didn’t want to lose the form I had.”

“After a week, the wrist felt okay and whilst I couldn’t get out of the saddle, I could train hard but physically the body wasn’t recovering as well as it would normally and it took six weeks before I was anywhere near as good as I had been before the crash. I can remember at the Tour of Reservoir, around three weeks after the crash when I thought I felt fine but people were riding away from me which I didn’t expect and that was hard to recover from”.

“I gradually got better though and halfway through the Elite Series, I started to get my legs back again.” A couple of second places in National B’s followed before a memorable ride in the Ryedale GP where he began with a solid attack at the start which was brought back before another breakaway stuck.
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Towards the end of the race, Adam was seen trying to cross to the front of the race. He takes up the story … “I’d had a go and the peloton had brought me back and then Tom Moses and Erick Rowsell went. I went again probably 500 metres later and was trying to get across to them but when they caught the break, they started driving it straight away and I was left to yoyo with the gap getting smaller then bigger then smaller.”

“Then I was caught by Connor Swift and after working with him, he just rode round some bends quickly and put four or five metres into me and that was it, I couldn’t close the gap after having been out on my own for two laps.”

Such performances however give him a lot of confidence ahead of a season with Vitus Pro Cycling in 2019 where the strength of the team will ensure they are competitive at the front of races. Before that though he has the Hill Climb season to get through before a week chilling and eating some cake before the build up for 2019 begins. “I’ll gradually build up the miles before getting away after Christmas for some more training and looking forward to the training camp because next year is for sure, going to be exciting”.

It will indeed Adam and we wish him well for 2019 and also for the Hill Climb championships.


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