Q & A: Stephen Bradbury (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK)

Another of the new signings for Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK is Stephen Bradbury from Reading who is relishing another UCI season

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Q & A: Stephen Bradbury (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK)

Where in the country are you based?
Stephen: I am currently based in Reading

Having ridden for a UCI team in 2019, was riding for a UCI team a key goal for 2020
Stephen: Absolutely. After putting all the work in to step up this year, I didn’t want to end up going backwards. It’s a good level to be at because you get a lot of variations in the level of races you do, so I find it keeps it fresh.

What does it mean to you to sign for a team with a long and rich history in the sport?
Stephen: I don’t think there is any substitute for experience. I remember looking up to Chez’s teams back when I was a kid, teams such as Plowman-Craven when I used to go on rides with guys like James Millard.

So to have that many years experience in running teams of this level in the UK, I don’t think there’s a trick in the book that Chez hasn’t come across. It’s also is a positive in my eyes, because it’s no secret that the UK scene is in a bit of a torrid time at moment, and a stable environment is something I was really keen to try and get myself involved in.

What was the highlight of the 2019 season for you?
Stephen: Winning the KOM Jersey in the Wyscig Mjr. Hubala – Sante Tour (UCI 2.1) was definitely up there for me. To have never ridden a race at that level before this year, coming away with a jersey and a top 10 on a stage was a huge result for me. Let alone having never got a KOM point in my life before!

What was the best race (the most fun/enjoyable one) in 2019?
Stephen: Tour De Loir Et Cher (UCI 2.2) was definitely one of my most enjoyable races. A week of beautiful sunshine in northern France, rolling round with your mates, and just enjoying the occasion. To that point, it was the biggest race I had ever done, so it was a new thing for me to help James (Shaw) as much as I could, whilst also having a crack on the last day and rolling a top 10.

What was the toughest race in 2019 and why?
Stephen: Tour of Yorkshire for sure. The worst conditions I have ever raced a stage race in I’d say. I took it very much day by day, had a crack at a sprint, found myself in the break on stage 3 battling into an outrageous headwind, fighting in the crosswind and getting spat in the tailwind! Stage 4 I’m keen to forget. I was pretty done by the time I rolled into Leeds!

How was the Tour de Yorkshire experience against world tour riders?
Stephen: It took me a while just to work out how these races work, the order in the middle of stages, and just the general etiquette rider to rider. It was good to test myself, and see where I am at this level. Those guys are the pinnacle of the sport, and its cool to race along side riders that have won some of the biggest bike races in the world, but you have to forget that, and just try to focus on getting your own result, be that for the team or yourself.

Was there one thing you learned in 2019 that stands out?
Stephen: To actually just believe in myself and back my ability. I’ve made huge progress over the last few years, and sometimes I question if I actually belong in some races at some points. Just get stuck in and give it your best. And at the end of the day its only a bike race.

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Are you full time rider or working?
Stephen: I am doing a Business management degree along side my racing

What disciplines in bike racing are your favourite ones? – ie, road or track …
Stephen: I will always love the track as it’s where I started. It’s allowed me to see parts of the world that I would never have been able to go to otherwise and I don’t think you can beat a full house on the last day of Six day, music blaring and crowd going wild as the biggest names go head to head.

How long have you been racing?
Stephen: I started down at Palmer Park down in Reading back in 2001, so I’ve been at it a while!

How do you find your track racing helps on the road?
Stephen: I find it helps me to hit the ground running at the start of the season, keeps me quick for sprints but also within the winter it gives me goals to break up the monotony of winter base training.

When does the serious training begin this winter?
Stephen: Due to getting ill in the latter half of the season, I started months ago in mid September and I’ve already starting racing, I did a stint in the US and a 3 day in Holland.

Does track racing form part of the winter training?
Stephen: Sure, I’ll be hoping to ride in the Six day Series again this winter, as well as the big 100km Madison in Copenhagen between Christmas and new year. That’s when you find out how your shape is!

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Is your winter training structured the whole time or a mix of riding the bike easy and then getting serious with top end work?
Stephen: For me winter, probably involves more top end work than most people, due to a different calendar, however I still like to fit in steady café rides every now again to keep myself sane and catch up with my mates. I find winter can get a bit depressing if you are full gas from October until March.

Do you train alone or is there a chain gang?
Stephen: I tend to do a lot of my riding on my own. It was something I found out the hard way, too much time in a group isn’t training time that is as efficient as it could be. I’m not the type of person to do everything alone, but if I want to do something specific, I’ll head out alone.

Finally, what races in 2020 are ones you really want to work towards being part of.
Stephen: I seem to do well in stage races so I’d love to go back and do the Tour of Yorkshire, and having missed out for illness, a crack at the Tour Britain remains a big goal as well. I’d like to do as many UCI races as possible. I came pretty close a few times last year to grabbing a UCI stage win, so that’s something I’d love to make happen.

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