He may be best known as a cross country MTB man but on a course at Hetton Lyons Country Park, Sunderland which included a little of everything, not so far from his Peebles home in the Scottish Borders, 24 year-old Grant Ferguson ran away with the British Elite Cyclo-Cross championships.
Beating into second place the man mostly closely associated with the title in recent years, five times champion, Ian Field.
The look on Field’s face reflected the fact that a British champion’s jersey is worth around 1,000 Euros in start money in any big continental ‘cross.
An irrelevance to Ferguson who goes back to fat tyres now.
Albeit, Ferguson’s first got himself noticed as a ‘cross rider with a silver medal in the 2011 British Junior Cyclo Cross Championship; the following year he was third in the u23 event before taking the u23 title for three straight years 2013/14/15.
His MTB palmarès are equally as impressive: second in the 2012 u23 title race before winning it in 2014 progressing to four straight Elite titles 2014/15/16/17.
We caught up with this versatile young man the day after his fine win.
Nice job, Grant – what was the championship course like?
“Not unlike the ‘cross courses we have in Scotland, a few hills, through the trees – a bit of everything.”
What’s the change like – MTB to ‘cross bike?
“I rode the last two rounds of the national ‘cross series and a World Cup in Belgium so I’ve been back on the ‘cross bike for a while and I’m used to it again.
“The national rounds went OK but I was pulled out of the World Cup under the rule to stop lapped riders getting mixed up with the leaders.
“You have to put a wee bit of time in because it’s so different to riding a mountain bike – not just the lack of suspension but going back to tubulars after being on MTB tyres…
“I rode my tubs at 18 psi in the championship, there were few times where I felt them bottom out but you need to keep them soft to gain traction on the grass.”
What was the game plan?
“I knew Liam Killeen and Ian Field were the men to watch – and in a championship there’s always a surprise.”
“I made my move on a bit of a run up with two laps to go and finished on my own.”
What was your bike spec?
“I was on SRAM 1×11 transmission, cable operated; FMB tubulars and ran 140 mil. rotor discs.
“When I ride my ‘cross bike on the road I’m not sure they’re that much better than conventional brake stirrups but it’s the way things are heading.”
Will you ride the ‘cross Worlds?
“No, it’s back to fat tyres for me now, I have an MTB stage race in Spain with the first World Cup in Stellenbosch, South Africa in March.”
Here at VeloVeritas we perhaps don’t give the MTB scene as much attention as we should – is it still burgeoning?
“In the UK we have a good national series but it’s massive in Europe – the ‘Enduro’ scene is big in the UK, too.”
Your team: CST Sandd – American Eagle MTB Racing Team?
“It’s still Bart Brentjens racing, Bart has changed sponsors but it’s still his team.
“American Eagle were the bikes Bart used back when he was racing seriously and was Olympic and World Mountain Bike Champion.”
I saw a photo of you with one of the team bikes – you’re on a ‘hard tail.’
“Yes but we hope to have full suspension for this year, if it’s a really bumpy cross country course full-sussed is a big advantage, your back wheel tracks the surface much better and you get improved grip.”
Does Old Bart still race?
“Yes, he never misses the Cape Epic in South Africa and still rides MTB stage races.”
And what about the Commonwealth Games?
“The team hasn’t been officially announce yet but I’ve already made the selection criteria.
“Anton Cooper and Sam Gaze of New Zealand who were first and second in Glasgow 2014 and Daniel McConnell who was third are all still very much on the scene and going well – so it’ll be competitive.”
And 2018 is about?
“Enjoying my racing!”