Question Time: Ben Hardy (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling)

Ben Hardy who rode for the Zappi Racing Team in 2018, rides for Swift Pro Carbon in 2019 and takes the VeloUK Q & A quiz

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Question Time: Ben Hardy (SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling)

Ben Hardy who rode for the Zappi Racing Team in 2018, rides for Swift Pro Carbon in 2019 and takes the VeloUK Q & A quiz

VeloUK: How did you get into the sport of cycling?
Ben: I had always done sport growing up, focusing on cross-country running in my early teens before switching to cycling. Simply put, one day I switched on the TV and watched Le Tour for about 20 minutes, somehow that hooked me, and I slowly got into the sport. I started off just riding my MTB around the village, before moving onto go ride sessions. I joined my first club soon after, Rutland Rouleur, and began to race. As a second-year junior, I really committed to my training and had a really successful year racing for Windmill Wheels Bike Shop. As a consequence, I was picked up by Zappi RT and have been in Italy pretty much ever since.

VeloUK: Full time rider, student or working?
Ben: I have been a full-time rider for the last two years at Zappi’s, but I am now a student at the University Of York.

VeloUK: Best race for you in 2018 and why?
Ben: Strada Bianche U23. I finished 7th which was my best result out in Italy. The race was split to pieces on the early sectors of gravel, then around 100km in, I attacked and created a break. We established a gap from the diminishing bunch and would go on to contest the race (although Stefan De Bod had gone on a solo mission that no one was stopping). Our group included 3 Colpack riders that made life difficult tactically, they eventually got a man away with 2km to go, the rest of us contested the sprint for 3rd. 
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VeloUK: Best organised/fun race you did in 2018?
Ben: Toscana Terra Di Ciclismo Eroica. Three savage days of racing, with Strada Bianche, 7,500m of climbing and some really mixed weather. I spent the first two days in the break before putting in one of my best rides on the final queen stage. The organisation was faultless and the hotel was a stunner.

VeloUK: Toughest race of 2018 and why?
Ben: Giro D’Italia U23. Not only was the level high, the race was 10 days long, by far the longest stage race I had completed. The process of racing everyday took its toll on the body making the last couple of days a real struggle. Virtually our whole team suffered with illness, taking us down one by one, it hit me on the last night, luckily I managed to get round the last day.

VeloUK: Funniest moment in a race in 2018?
Ben: This is more of a season long thing, but it has to be watching/listening to Nick Mckibbin and his many ‘race issues’: punctures, mechanicals and strange crashes. The guys post-race stories would crack me up no end.

VeloUK: Do you train alone or have others to help you get through the ride?
Ben: On Zappi’s we trained with each other every day, but now I mix it up a bit. Training alone a few times a week, then training with the UOYCC lads on the club rides.

VeloUK: In the winter – training on the road or indoors?
Ben: Road, I don’t mind the turbo but don’t have anywhere to set it up at uni. If/when the weather gets bad, I will ride the mountain bike and just get on with it.

VeloUK: How many hours on the bike can you fit in during an average winter training week?
Ben: At university with good planning you can put in solid 15-20 hr weeks, during the holidays the possibilities are endless!

VeloUK: Is there any off the bike training (running/swimming/gym etc)?
Ben: I used to be a cross-country runner so I like to do a fair amount of running through the winter into January, I also go to the gym 2 or 3 times a week, focusing on core strength.

VeloUK: Do you train with any gadgets (Heart rate/power) or just go on ‘feel’ of the ride
Ben: Generally I go off feel, Zappi teaches you that! Its old school but seems to work, I will use heart rate/power on occasion but I hate the idea of being a robot to the numbers, moreover I think you learn a lot more about your body and performance if you can train off feel.

VeloUK: Which pieces of the clothing would you use to keep warm and dry on a rainy, cold day like winter now?
Ben: Lots of layers, gloves, overshoes, the usual. I could not do without my buff(s) in winter though, pretty sure I’m wearing at least one from October to March on every ride. … continued after advert


VeloUK: What are your key goals for 2019?
Ben: I want to focus mainly on UCI races. After a couple of years racing at this level, I feel I am capable of results now, on top of that I want to have a proper go at the National U23 TT champs. In general, I want to achieve consistency throughout the season, something I have really struggled with the last two years.

VeloUK: If there was one race you could get a ride in during 2019, what would that be and why?
Ben: The Tour Of Britain, it’s the biggest race in the UK and the first race I went to watch when I first got into cycling. It would be pretty cool to be the other side of that barrier.

VeloUK: Favourite pro race to watch on tele and why?
Ben: The Giro. Over the last two seasons living in Italy it’s the one race I have really got into, it’s on the TV everyday so really easy to follow out there. This years was especially good, I remember watching THAT attack by Froome in a hotel room with Flavio, both of us just baffled by what on earth was going on.

VeloUK: Do you race in the winter to keep the top end or focus only on training?
Ben: No, I enjoy having a long time off from all the stresses of racing, it allows me to fully refresh the mind. Also, I just kind of have no desire to race in the winter, it just feels wrong.

VeloUK: Finally, best thing about being in a UCI team for 2019?
Ben: Simply the opportunity to race more top level UCI races.

Good luck to Ben in 2019 and thank you for that excellent Q&A


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