Feature: Freddie Scheske (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK)

One of the revelations of 2019 who thrilled the crowds around the country in the circuit races was Freddie Scheske (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK) who is based in Exeter. We check in with Freddie to see what he’s doing …

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Feature: Freddie Scheske (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK)

One of the revelations of 2019 who thrilled the crowds around the country in the circuit races was Freddie Scheske (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK) who is based in Exeter. We check in with Freddie to see what he’s doing …

One of my favourite photos ever, team boss Cherie Pridham with Freddie after his monster performance at Aberdeen

Back at the end of February, the Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK had a little get together for some photos and kit collection. At that time, the talk was about the season ahead starting with a race in Belgium (Le Samyn) and then GP Lillers in France. The Tour of Normandie was also on the schedule. Whilst this virus was present, how it was about to decimate the racing calendar was not yet upper most in most people’s minds.

When we first caught up with Freddie, he’d just returned from a warm weather training camp which he said gave him the opportunity to get in a big block of training without having to worry about hypothermia and rain etc. During that six days out in Calpe, Freddie also met up with teammate Adam Kenway who was already out there and so he had some company on a few of his training days. In all, during the six days he was out there, Freddie was able to get in a big block of five days training before returning home and a little more training before his racing season kicked off.

Freddie was dead keen to race in Europe as he’d yet to do that but his first scheduled race, GP Lillers, didn’t go to plan with a puncture and little crash. “It was a mix of bad luck and bad decisions” Freddie says. “I made some tactical errors in terms of my positioning and some kit errors as I wasn’t wearing enough but I have learned from that.” Freddie says that the incident with another team car saw him escape with no broken bones and just a little road rash.

He then suffered a puncture and a mechanical so bad luck also played its part in his race. It was Freddie’s first UCI race in France and despite all the challenges, he said it was fun and that he felt strong in the bunch so all the signs after his winter training were positive ones.

Freddie high fiving the crowd after winning at Salisbury

European races like Liller’s however were not the main goal for Freddie, at least for the first part of the season. The Tour Series in May (now postponed) was a big goal and at the time we spoke to Freddie in February, everything race wise was still in place. Back in 2019 in Salisbury, Freddie won a round of the Tour Series. Asked had that win sunk in yet, he replied, “it’s been a while since I won in Salisbury but it’s still surreal knowing that I have that in the bank. The win takes the pressure off in one way but also puts more pressure on in a different way so we’ll be hoping to win some more this year”.

Whilst his win at Salisbury was a memorable moment for Freddie, a monster ride for him was at Aberdeen where he crashed out of a breakaway when trying to navigate through the peloton being lapped. Freddie finished second that day behind winner Alex Paton.

“Sometimes I forget about that ride and how lucky I was to get back in there for the finish. There was only three laps to go when I got caught up in the peloton, crashed and was then on my own chasing the break I’d been with who were going for the win”.

Aberdeen Tour Series and Freddie sitting in the break with Charlie Tanfield and Alex Paton of Canyon DHB and Tom Moses of Madison Genesis

“I just got onto them with half a lap to go and reckon if I’d not had that chase, I’d have had that race in the bag.” After Freddie had re-caught the break he’d been part of, on that last lap, Alex Paton showed his experience by laying off the back a bit and taking a run at the break with a last minute attack, holding on to win the round.

“He came past us at twice the speed we were going so by the time I’d reacted, he was already at the final corner. Missing his attack was a mistake on my part because if I hadn’t been fully gassed, I might have been more aware of what was going on around me. The rides in the Tour Series though give me a lot of confidence to go out there and give my everything again this year given the chance.”

Freddie may have missed the win in Aberdeen but he still had plenty of podium time like this with Brother UK’s MD, Phil Jones, a sponsor of the Vitus Pro Cycling team

One of the memorable things about Freddie’s racing is his no fear style of riding and the crashes like the one at Aberdeen. His one at Sheffield however was even more spectacular. Talking to Freddie about these crashes, he’s calm about it all and replies “crashing is part of racing as you’re always going to be pushing the grip to the limit.”

“I don’t regret the way I rode at Sheffield. I am annoyed with myself but I don’t regret going in there because sometimes you’ll go over your limit but sometimes you will be within the limit and go on to win” explained ‘no fear’ Freddie.

“To be fair, I got away very lucky with Sheffield” he added. “It could have been worse with concussion or broken bones and I might be saying something else but because I pretty much got away with it unscathed, I certainly have the confidence to go out there and give it everything again”.

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His talent for the crits is well known. A look through his palmeres shows loads of wins in the local crits as well as events like the Winchester GP. But Freddie would also like to get better in the longer, more endurance based events. Talking before the Tour Series was postponed, he said “For this year, I am pretty focused on the crits and then once they are done, the pressure should be off and I’ll be looking to get in some road miles for the road races as that is definitely a weakness of mine.”

‘No fear’ Freddie attacking the corners in a crit  

With no-one knowing when we’ll have racing in 2020, those plans for Freddie are now more an unknown but one thing is for sure, he would love to get a ride in the Tour of Britain should the event in September be held and his team is invited. The Tour de Yorkshire, again, if held after being postponed, has a parcour he knows doesn’t suit him so that’s been put to one side but the Tour of Britain has something he really wants to be part of.

“I would absolutely love to do the Tour of Britain. Stage 2 finishes in Exeter and if I could ride that, it would be a dream come true so I just have to focus on being fit enough to do it”.

On the subject of dream results, when asked what results would make his year, Freddie says “backing up the win at Salisbury with another Tour Series win would make my year. I want to win more of course and for me, it’s not just about personal goals. I’d like to win the Tour Series as a team; that would be awesome. That would make the year for sure. We have a stronger team and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in when we can and seeing what we can do.”

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And that is the 64,000 dollar question – when will they get to race? Whilst they wait for that time to roll around, Freddie is continuing to train in the South West where he is based (Exeter). “The terrain down here is fantastic” he says. “There is very little flat but having been here a while, I know where to look if I want a flat ride. It’s difficult but there are roads I can use for sprint sessions and stuff. If you go out on Dartmoor, it’s hard, cold, windy and there’s the grippy roads. It’s good training for sure”.

Before this virus started to have a huge impact on our lives, riders had a choice, train solo or in a group. Now the advice is to go solo which is not a big deal for Freddie who says “I do love a good chain gang when you do go a bit deeper when you are racing someone else even if it’s just for some fun but for most of my structured efforts, I like to do them on my own; buckle down and do the session”.

Minoura home trainers, one of the team’s sponsors

With no racing on the horizon though, the training now for Freddie is back to being what he’d do during the winter. “I have kind of knocked it back a bit to doing base work” Freddie explained on Sunday. “I’ve had a little time off since GP Lillers and then gone back to doing what I was doing in the winter.”

That includes training indoors as well as outdoors whilst he is still allowed. The team are sponsored by Minoura home trainers and he said when we spoke on Sunday night he’d just had a bit of a clearer on his home trainer. Freddie added though that whilst the weather is as beautiful as it was on Sunday, the only place to ride the bike was outside and so he did a nice three hours.

Asked how it was mentally having to train for races that no-one has a restart date for, Freddie replied “I’m just going to keep optimistic and say in my head it will kick off in July or August, so that is my new March, and keep thinking that and hope for the best. Otherwise, if I don’t think anything is going to happen all season, I won’t have that motivation to train.”

One bright point in all the announcements was the Tour Series being postponed and not cancelled for 2020. “I was very pleased they were committed to giving it a go and not writing it off because that was my season’s focus pretty much. So I’m happy they are trying to postpone it.”

Looking at what a typical week is now, Freddie says it’s much like it is during the winter. “I’m doing 15 to 20 hour weeks keeping the high intensity ticking over but no real intervals or things like that. I might do the odd Zwift race to keep it fun.”

On the subject of Zwift, Freddie says “I don’t enjoy it as much as training outside and never will but I have done two or three hour rides on there and it’s infinitely better than just doing a turbo ride. Just having something to look at and feel like you are moving and not sat in the living room not going anywhere.”

To finish, we talked bikes as his team is on a new one in 2020, the Vitus Vitesse Evo Disc. “I much prefer this year’s bikes” says Freddie. “Not to say last year’s frame wasn’t amazing but this one is lighter and stiffer and we also have new Velotec skinsuits. I haven’t worn one yet but the data from the wind tunnel tests tells us they look pretty quick so it should be a pretty quick package altogether.”

Thank you to Freddie for the chat and good luck on the bike staying fit and healthy … 

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