Q & A: Ian Field (Neon Velo)

Five times a British cyclo-cross champion, Ian Field has a ‘habit’ of winning the National Trophy and in the 2019 series with one round to go, he leads! We quiz the country’s legend in cyclo-cross

Q & A: Ian Field (Neon Velo)

Five times a British cyclo-cross champion, Ian Field has a ‘habit’ of winning the National Trophy and in the 2019 series with one round to go, he leads! We quiz the country’s legend in cyclo-cross

How valuable is that lead going into York over Gosse van der Meer?
Any lead is obviously valuable going into the final round but its not as big as I would like it! Three points is more or less a who beats who at the final round to take the title.

What are the strengths of Gosse van der Meer in this years series?
Gosse has been really good at the two fast races we have had in the series and managed to put me under real pressure when the going has been dry. I think my lack of road racing in the summer has hurt those two results for myself, however, that said my form in the deep muddy conditions has been really good this season which I am proud of.

Gosse van der Meer chasing Ian Field at West Moorland Showground

Would you say this series has been one of the competitive with lots of visitors
Ian: The series has definitely been the most competitive I have ever seen. Not necessarily for the overall but at individual rounds of the series it has been a stacked international field. At Crawley, I finished 10th with a respectable ride. I would have said in recent years 10th would have been a disaster normally!

With so many wins not just in the championship but the series, how do you remain so motivated to go for the series win year after year?
Ian: The motivation to win with myself has been strong for a long time now, there is no better feeling than getting your hands in the air. In recent years, these have been getting hard to get so remaining consistent and trying to win the series overall fills me with the same satisfaction. Showing that consistency through an entire season of Cross racing in all different kinds of conditions across many different courses is really challenging but rewarding at the same time.

The series is all over the country, is the travelling a tough part of the process?
This season the travelling has been even more than most. Irvine was again a really long trip for myself, taking around 13 hours to complete the journey and given this was only a couple of weeks after being in the Lake district for Milnthorpe (Westmorland County Showground), the travelling has really taken a toll.

Pembury turned out to be a long way from anywhere as well. On all three occasions though, we were met with great courses so it makes the travelling worth while. If I had made any of those journeys and been met with a rubbish sub standard course then I think people can moan but all three were international standard events.

Have you had the same pit crew for the series or does that vary?
Ian: At the most of the rounds it has been Reg Brench but he also works the GB trips so there have been some clashes where Dai James (Ffion’s Dad) has stepped into help me out which was really nice of him and sums up the spirit even at the National standard of Cross where everyone tried to muck in and help each other out if need be in the pits! Toby Willis has already helped out at the real muddy race when an extra set of hands is necessary.

What round of the series has been the muddiest?
I think the muddiest round has been Crawley. Milnthorpe (Westmorland County Showground) was pretty bad but they had the gravel paths within the course to really break things up.

Which round has had the toughest course so far?
I think for myself, I found Pembury the toughest course. There were multiple really short steep climbs either ride-able or running back to back which really ground you down. In practice, it felt like a course where the effort was really on/off but in reality at race pace, they came at you so fast you didn’t have time to recover between them!

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Which course has been the most fun to race?
For me I think Milnthorpe (Westmorland County Showground) was the most fun. It had a bit of everything within the course and I just love those tough conditions where you are on and off the bike multiple times a lap. There were technical elements throughout the course but you were never sat there grinding away for too long at a time. Dave and his team really did put on a great event.

How crucial are tyre pressures in CX? Can they be the difference between winning/losing?
Ian:  A
bsolutely. Tyre pressures can mean everything during a cross race. I think we saw that at the opening round at Derby where the heavens opened just before the start and it was those riders that adapted quickly with their tyre choice and pressures that could race from lap one rather than others who either spent the whole race at the wrong pressure or some who took half the race to get them right with multiple bike changes.

When do you start your specific training for the CX season?
Normally in August I will start the really specific cross sessions on the road and then usually the reality is I start my off road sessions when my bikes turn up for the season which is normally quite late and close to the first race.

Before August time is spent just getting in the training hours and working on any specific areas of weakness I will have highlighted from the previous season. This summer I really worked on my strength endurance with lots of gym work which I think has really paid off in those muddy races.

Does an experienced rider like you do a lot of skills work (starts/hurdles etc) before the season starts
As I said this is normally governed by when my bikes turn up from the sponsors. Luckily for me the muscle memory is pretty strong so I can get away with not having much time on the bikes before the first races as the skills come back super quickly.

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Between rounds of the Trophy races, is there a lot of physical training or just maintence on the fitness?
This season, the races have been really close together as they started in September and is all finished by mid December which is unusual. This has meant managing the training load has been a tricky balance.

I think I got it wrong going into Pembury, a little too much training and not enough recovery but on the whole, I train hard off the back of a race and then try and rest up going into the next one. Unfortunately after Pembury, I came down with a virus that really knocked me. I only got back on the bike yesterday after a week totally off and felt awful but hopefully the enforced rest will have done me some good, once my legs come back I should be good for York.

How has the weather been for this years series – same as other years or wetter
I think the back end of the summer and this winter has been really wet meaning a lot more muddy races in the series this season. The two fast races have been due to the areas in which the course were based. Irvine and Pembury are both based on sand dunes which obviously drain really well meaning no matter how much rain there has been, the course will always been in a good fast condition.

Finally, who do you see being your rivals at the Cross Champs in Shrewsbury besides Mr Pidcock…
I think once again all the international U23 riders will the main protagonists within the race. It’s hard to see past Tom the way he has been riding already this season however if Shrewsbury turns into a mudfest/running race you never know who could really prosper. Ben Tullet has been riding well recently while Thomas Mein showed his class by winning a Under 23 World Cup. Finally you have Ben Turner who hasn’t been well recently but will know doubt come back stronger for National Champs.

Thanks to Ian for the Q & A … good luck at York! 


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