[pullquote]GRANT FERGUSON BRITISH NATIONAL CHAMPION U23 cyclo-cross[/pullquote]
So said the Superior-Brentjens team press release – and it continues:
“Grant Ferguson, newcomer to the Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team, won the U23 CX National title, overcoming a brave ride by defending champion Steven James and an aggressive performance from Ben Sumner who finished third.”
It was Kenta Gallagher (also newcomer to the Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team) who made the first impression on the race, leading the charge away from the start with Nick Barnes, Adam Martin and Ferguson close behind.
By the end of the second lap a six rider group had formed, including Ferguson. Ben Sumner finally broke up the race with a big effort at the start of the fourth lap. Ferguson was the only rider to go with him.
With the bell approaching, Ferguson finally made his move and he broke clear, able to stretch his lead to around half a minute at the finish line, as he claimed his first national Cyclo Cross title.
We last spoke to Ferguson when he won the Scottish Hill Climb Championship back in October – VeloVeritas is always pleased to see a Scotsman doing the business and we caught up with him again, the day after his win.
Congratulations on your title, Grant – how was the course.
“It was quite a technical course with lots of corners; when I rode it earlier in the day it was solid, but as the day went on it started to soften up and get slippery – you had to be careful.”
Did you have a selection of wheels and tyres to choose from?
“I only had one type of tubs with me!
“They were a ‘middle of the road’ tread not big knobblies but not for a fast course, either.
“I had them pretty soft, I go on feel – but the actual pressure was 24 psi.
“When I was less experienced I used to think that if you had your tyres hard then you’d make up time on the tarmac and fast sections, but you need grip on the corners – if you put too much pressure then you can lose a lot of time on the corners.”
The start is crucial in cyclo-cross, how was yours?
“My start was OK, the championship is the only race where the Under 23’s race on their own – normally we’re with the Elite men, so the start is a lot less of a fight when it’s just the U23.
“It was hard right from the gun – six of us got away and then it split later.”
Do you do much training on technique?
“Not really, I rely on my fitness and my mountain bike skills – I used to do practice drills, but riding the mountain biking gives you the cornering technique.”
Are the Cross Worlds a possibility?
“They’re a possibility, but with Worlds being in the United States it’s unlikely.
“I think if they had been in Europe it would have been more likely – and besides, I’d planned the Nationals as the end of my cross season.
“I have training camps starting up, now.”
Have you ever thought about a cyclo cross season in Belgium?
“It’s something I’ve thought about for the future – but the racing is at a much higher level over there, of course.”
What’s the direction for this season – road or MTB?
“Mostly MTB, I’ve joined a new team; Superior-Brentjens and we’ll be riding a World Cup programme.
“Superior is a Czech bike manufacturer and Bart Brentjens who manages the team was Netherlands, World and Olympic cross country mountain bike champion.”
You’re racing virtually all year . .
“I had four or five weeks off at the end of the MTB season – that was all of October, then I started back on November 1st.”
You’re on the British Cycling Academy programme.
“Yes this is my second year; the road, BMX, track and MTB riders are all housed in block of flats in Manchester.
“We’ve done camps with the other disciplines and see them all the time but our training programmes are different.
“The first year was quite hard; but now I’m into the routine – I’m quite disciplined when it comes to doing my own cooking and fending for myself on stuff like making travel arrangements.
“But we have a mechanic there for us and coaching assistance at the gym if we need it.”
Is the training hi-tech?
“We train with heart rate monitors but I think we’ll be moving on to Power Taps and SRM’s – a more analytical approach.”
What are the goals for 2013?
“To continue to progress – it’s my second year as a U23 and I’ll be riding a full World Cup programme with Superior-Brentjens.
“I’ve been finishing in the 20’s but want to move up to top 15 and top 10 finishes.
“I’m still on the BC programme, attending their training camps and riding the European and World championships for them but most of my racing will be for Superior-Brentjens.”
And do the Scottish riders have to worry about you in the ‘Cross Nationals, next month?
“I was entered for it on the original date – I still am for the new date – but training camps will be starting for me, so no, I won’t be there.”
But VeloVeritas will be at the SC X Nationals – see you there?