Feature Interview: Alexandar Richardson (Alpecin-Fenix)

With his season about to kick off, a new lighter Alexandar Richardson (Alpecin-Fenix) is excited to see what this season brings him

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Feature Interview: Alexandar Richardson (Alpecin-Fenix)

With his season about to kick off, a new lighter Alexandar Richardson (Alpecin-Fenix) is excited to see what this season brings him.

Alex is somewhere he’s never been before during his cycling career having taken up more running this off season. After 2020’s experience racing at the highest level for the first time, Alex felt he needed to be a little lighter in order to improve at the level he is racing at now and is now quite excited, feeling great and enjoying the challenge to be a better version of himself on the bike.

“I know more about myself now than when I have lost weight in the past” Alex explained when we spoke at the end of January. “I have lost some weight in a happy way. I never ran in the past because people told me it was bad for cycling but there has been no detrimental effect on my cycling. A lot of the theories in cycling can be quite far fetched. Running has helped me lose weight, not so much fat but more upper body muscle.”

“I guess even if your training lower body in the gym, you’re still constantly activating motor neurones and pathways that contribute to a more bulky all round physique and frankly I prefer running anyway'”.

Alex isn’t the only pro cyclist to run. Tom Pidcock we know runs and damn quickly, as does his big rivals in cyclocross Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert where running is part of that sport. Grand Tour GC winner Primoz Roglic too, who used to do duathlons (running/cycling), is also said to run every morning for half an hour before training on his bike.

“I have always been crossing training using weights and things so I am quite muscly” explains Alex, adding, “and I used to get quite tired from it and it impacted my training on the bike. So I started running over the winter again. I was normally 71/73 kilos but I am now around 68/69 for the same body fat and haven’t lost the power or jump. I test myself indoors in the same environment and ride with others to get a feel for how I am on the bike.”

“I do think with the level I am racing at now, you do need to be a little lighter if your able to as the parcours are generally hillier. My power to weight is good and I’m climbing better which is nice. I am going up climbs in around the same time as I was settings PBs on them previously and it’s January and I’m in winter kit and on the winter bike. I guess I am lugging around five or six less water bottles and that’s quite a bit. I don’t think it will make a massive amount of difference on the flatter type racing, but if I have lost no power, then just the small accelerations will take a little less out of me.”

“I have been running for 16 weeks, three times a week. I do a couple of runs in the morning each week for half an hour and I do one, one and half hour marathon a week to top up the load of training before a restday and I don’t have any soreness from it.”

Alexander admits he’s learned not only a lot about himself in the last twelve months but also the level he is racing at. “I think for my power to be good at that level, I need to be 68/69kg. It shouldn’t be underestimated the difference in racing at that level week in week out compared to lower level UCI races. There are levels after level in the sport and the jump and differences are endless”.

“I felt pretty average last season when racing but it did give me the insight to a really great learning curve and the drive to be better. There were quite a few team roles to do that were important for me to do and I was happy with the team work I did, being consistent and robust. Whatever happens this season for me, it’s all about staying motivated and enjoying the process of it all. If nothing else, I enjoy trying something new. Fingers crossed, a lighter me will help me be further forward in races.”

Lining up with the team in the Tour de Wallonie in 2020

Racing in 2020
Racing in 2020 was okay says Alex. “I was going pretty well doing team jobs like riding on the front, getting bottles and was in a team that won some good races”.

Alex was also learning about what he needed to do to be better at the top level. At the end of the season, his team was the leading ProConti team which means it has first refusal on wildcards for the big races like Grand Tours.

“I did my best to fit in with the team and get a feel for things and this year I’m looking to go for it and have something to prove to myself. I think what makes you stronger in racing is being motivated all the time and going the distance”.

“I did learn in our team that there is a really nice atmosphere and that helps bring in the results. The team is built on everyone getting on and we’re all quite matter of fact and honest. There’s not much wishy washy with them. I said to them, for me to be at the front of these races, I reckon I need to lose three kilos. They’ll appreciate I have got on and done that whether it works or not.”

“It does in testing but theory and practice are often two similar but very different things.”

Explaining what it’s like racing for the team, he says “when you get instruction, you have to listen to it but everyone has kind of got an open agenda at the start unless there is a clear leader there like Mathieu (van der Poel) or Tim (Merlier) (sprinter).”

Alex reveals he is on a short list for the Giro and if not will ride the Vuelta. “It has been a slow start to the year because of the Covid virus and the UK guys have been pushed back a little. I have lost a few races that were on my calendar but I start in Le Samyn on the third of March.”

Something Alex enjoys, winning bike races! This is his win in the Lincoln GP

Alex, when racing for Canyon DHB, had a lot of success in Belgium so I asked was that, Belgium, a good place for him to start his season? “I guess so. I really like the Belgium racing. I think it’s a good place for me to start as I like that race. It’s a hard day out and I like a hard day where you have to grit your teeth. It’s the first race though so you never really know how you will go but I think I’ll fare okay.”

“Ideally, the second race is a good one to go well in so it would have been good if that had been the second race”.

Chatting about goals for the season ahead, he says “I’d really like to ride a Grand Tour. I think a rider like me will have a lot of opportunities in a Grand Tour. You are doing a race where there is 160 or 170 riders, 30 per cent are doing a job, 30 per cent are ‘not racing’ on that day, 30 per cent are racing another race (GC) so you are only racing 30 people trying to get in the break in the first place and it’s all about probabilities and in a Grand Tour you have a lot more opportunities to do that.”

“It would be nice to be in the Giro as I think the Vuelta will be harder to win a stage. So that is a big motivation for me and I really want to do a lot of the 1.1 races as I didn’t do that many last year.”

Finally, on his winter training down in London, Alex says “I love it here. It’s not been that cold and I quite like the weather. When you go to these warmer climates, you end up riding longer hours and doing flatter efforts”.

The volume of work for Alex in the UK is quite high for a rider who enjoys being as fit as he can be and his training is around 22 hours a week including the running. “As I am lighter, I think I can do a bit more volume now and not be as tired. I like my split days and enjoy a bit of turbo because I can get an accurate feel on how I am going on that specific day.”

Asked where he thinks his fitness is now, Alex replies “all year round, I never drop off too much because I am an exercise fanatic and I enjoy it, its not really a hardship for me. I want to be in shape even if I am not racing like I am and I hope I’d still be in good shape. It’s all about doing my best because I am a competitive person and winning is fun.”

Is Alex looking forward to his first races to see what his ‘new body’ is going to give him? “That’s the biggest thing for me, I am actually excited to test out riding in a lighter frame because I feel great and I am very enthusiastic about when I do things like this and you have to be.”

We wish Alex lots of luck when he goes racing and hope the new found watts per kilo fitness gives him the opportunity to get the hands in the air!

Cycle Division’s Shop

Send your results as well as club, team & event news here

Other Results on VeloUK (including reports containing results)

Other News on VeloUK