Feature Interview: Harry Tanfield

24 year old Harry Tanfield (Katusha Alpecin) is full on training for the classics in his first year in  the World Tour

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Feature Interview: Harry Tanfield

24 year old Harry Tanfield (Katusha Alpecin) is full on training for the classics in his first year in the World Tour.

The big win in Yorkshire last year helped Harry’s move to the WorldTour

After victory on stage 1 in the Tour of Yorkshire in 2018, success in time trials and in crits as well, Harry Tanfield will, in 2019, be racing WorldTour, the dream aspiration of many a British rider. Thanks to his 2018 team of Canyon Eisberg, Harry got his opportunity and is now full gas preparing for 2019 races as part of Katusha Alpecin’s ‘classics’ team.

VeloUK spoke to Harry and started by asking what he was doing with his new team as the season is about to kick off in Europe at Challenge Mallorca. “I have been training in Spain since the new year” Harry explained, adding “and during that time I went to Belgium to do a recon for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 and Dwars Door Vlaanderen. I then had two days at home before going to Mallorca where in four days, we’ve done three days riding and had a rest day too”.

Harry’s time with Katusha Alpecin began back in December for the presentation as he explained. “After I finished the Berlin World Track Cup”, I had a week to do some road miles before the presentation over three days. It was really nice to meet everyone; they were all super friendly and even after only three days of the presentations, it felt like I had been with the team for a long time.”

“After that we flew to Mallorca and did three days on, one day off and then four days on and then I flew to Switzerland for my last track race (with Huub/Wattbike) so that was a pretty busy period before Christmas. I got to meet everyone and we had new bikes too.”

Picture from Harry’s instagram

Asked what it was like in a team like Katusha, language wise, especially for a newbie like Harry, he replied “It is a very international team where English is the language of the team so it doesn’t cause any issues for me. All the guys speak English except for one new guy from Russia but other than that, everyone’s English is good.”

Twenty four year old Harry admits he felt a bit nervous at the start. “I had never been to Mallorca so was thinking it was going to be horrendously tough but the place we stayed on the island is the flattest part too. The roads we have been doing the efforts on are rolling roads and that makes for good group riding.”

Going back to the first training camp, Harry says “the first camp was crazy. I was rooming with Ian (Boswell) who is a super nice guy and it was good to meet him and chat a lot about where I have been and where he’s been like with Team Sky and so on.”

Harry also got a new bike which kept him busy. “The new bike has disc brakes and I really like it. It has 12 speed SRAM (eTap) and we’ve been riding them since December because it takes time to bed in the calipers so the discs don’t rub. The TT bike is the same as last year but with different wheels. Everything we have is really good and you look in from the outside and can see how privileged we are to have the sponsors we do like Canyon, Zipp and SRAM that make really good stuff”.

But before anyone thinks it’s a cushy job, think again! Harry’s been a little busy as he explained starting off by saying that it isn’t just training on the bikes they do as there were days where before breakfast they were doing this exercise called TRX (Suspension Training bodyweight exercise).

“So we do a bit of that, morning core stuff and mobility work for around 30 mins before breakfast and then two groups would head out on the road; climbers leaving at 10 and classics leaving at 10.15 on a typical day”.

Picture from Harry’s instagram

“We’d do from four to six hours, come back and have lunch between 3 and 4.30, and then back to the room and massage if you need one which for me was every three days or so. Then dinner around 7 to 8pm and after that, back to the room when you spend time looking at the phone because it’s the first time all day when you’ve had time to catch up on anything.”

Harry went on to say it is surprising how fast the days on camp go and in December it was even busier as Harry, being a newbie, had meetings with lots of different people to organise emails, team clothing, custom kit from sponsors, race meetings and so on. Manic I think is the word to describe that camp that month.

Before that first camp, Harry was working hard to make sure he was going to be riding well with these world tour riders so when asked who were the hammers and who were the nails, he replied “it was all relatively controlled actually.”

“In the December camp , a lot of guys came into it with different levels of form. I wasn’t as bad as I thought I was going to be after having a few 22 hour weeks in my legs whilst another of the guys Reto (Hollenstein) with grand tours in his legs, had a lot of cross country skiing in his legs before the camp.”

“For him to come into camp and still have an over 400 watt threshold is crazy. In the training and drills, it’s scary the numbers these guys are pushing.”

“In the last camp, we did a lot of through and off stuff, 20 minute blocks and some standing start sprinting in groups where we’d have some riders leading out and some who sprinted for the line and we’d rotate that which was interesting. I won my first heat against Rick and Nils but then in the second one I was against Dimtry and he jumped me and I never managed to get past him.”

“On the last day, we did 20 minutes through and off and it was like, you can twist the screw now guys, and the last two minutes of that I had to sit on. Marcel was flying and the guys were going through at over 500 watts and then pull over and would then still keep riding just as hard and at one point, it was like ‘how long are you going to pin me here (on the front).”

“At the end, it went up a climb and I was already doing 600 watts hanging onto the back wheel so I was swinging especially as it was the last day of a four day block. But I got round in one piece and could see a few of the other guys were swinging as well.”

Picture: Katusha Alpecin team website

Harry also explained how the training in the team is broken up into groups.

“In the first camp, we had the Tour Down Under group all training together (mix of classics and climbers) and then we had a climbing group (around eight of them) and then we had the classics group where there is seven or eight of us so there were three training groups always out and the groups do training specific to them.”

“The classics group has riders of a similar ability and style which is helpful. It would have been pointless going out in the mountains with the two groups (climbers and classics) together as the classics guys would have been working super hard to get up the climbs and the climbers not so hard to stay together. So it’s really good the way they think the training through”.

The coaching at Harry’s new team is being formulated by new head coach Kevin Poulton from Australia. “He brings a wealth of new training methods and new experience” says Harry. “He’s using a modern scientific based approach and everything I love about my coach, he’s like that. I am still working with my coach but Kevin oversees that as well so he monitors it every three or four days. On the camp, Kevin does my training and away from the camp, Craig does my training”.
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One of the most common questions a rider will be asked is what their race programme is going to be and whilst Harry has a schedule of races (the classics), what he gets to ride will depend on his form at the time as riders compete in the different groups to get a place in ‘their’ race.

“It’s like ten or eleven guys names are put down for a race and the seven best guys will get to race it based on the training” says Harry “adding which is fair enough because if there are guys going better than you, they should race. It adds that element of competition to be selected for the race and it’s a modern way. Guys are not guaranteed to race certain races like someone might be fatigued for example so it’s cool”.

First up for Harry will a few days in Challenge Mallorca where ironically enough, his old teammates at Canyon DHB will be racing as well. “I will do a few days in Challenge Mallorca. They are all super hilly but it will be cool to see the guys from my old team who look like they are going well. I don’t know which days I’m doing yet through”.

After that, Harry will get a day back at home before heading to Spain where he expects to spend a lot of time training prior to the classics as well as getting in some races like the one at Almeria. Harry added that he’s down as a reserve for the UAE Tour as well.  … continued after advert


Asked what he’s learnt, the answer was not what I expected even though I know what he means! Harry replied “I’ve learn to treat any wet roads in Majorca with respect! I had never ridden in Majorca or in Spain when it’s been wet but these roads are super slippery here.”

Looking ahead to the racing, Harry has his name on the list for races in the classics season but as he explained, it will depend on how well he is going compared to the other guys and he will be competing with as many as ten or eleven other guys for the seven spots. One race that is on his calendar that he is for sure looking forward to and hoping to get a ride in, is the Tour of Yorkshire where his stage victory last year helped him be where he is today.

Then, the season focuses will be on the team races and for Harry, his personal goals will be the British Time Trial Championship where he was beaten by Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas in 2018. He’d also like to ride the World Team Time Trial and Individual Time trial Championships taking place only twenty minutes from his home in North Yorkshire. All he needs he says is some more watts … No doubt a season on the road with Katusha may well give him that… fingers crossed.

Thanks to Harry for his time and good luck in Challenge Mallorca. 


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