With the third round of the Tissot World Cup coming up in Berlin on November 30th those HUUB Wattbike boys have pulled of a major coup by signing the fastest man alive over four kilometres, world record holder Ashton Lambie.
VeloVeritas spoke to the man from Kansas when he smashed troubled Aussie Jack Bobridge’s 4:10:534 with a stunning 4:07:251 ride in Aguascalientes earlier this year.
It’s another chapter in the remarkable story of a team of young men – including Scotland’s John Archibald – who, without the massive funding available to national teams, have gone from World Cup ‘curiosity’ to a major force in world team pursuiting, getting the better of some of the fastest teams out there.
We caught up with the man behind the team and the holder of the record for most British titles won in one season – eight – Dan Bigham, after he returned from a successful foray to Canada where round two of the Tissot World Cup took place on the boards of the Milton Velodrome in Ontario where the men in black came away with silver.
Their riding took them ahead of GB in third spot with just the dynamic Danes besting them.
Congratulations on the team’s ride but we heard on the grapevine that the Milton track isn’t the sweetest to ride, Dan?
“It’s not fun to ride, no; there’s a story that a water main burst during construction, the boards on one side got soaked and that’s at the root of the problem.”
Remind us of your times to get that silver medal, please.
“There are three rides in the series if you get all the way to the finals; we did 3:56:628 to qualify then first fastest rides against fourth fastest, second against third, fifth against eighth and six against seventh.
“In that round we did 3:55:022 and 3:56:699 in the final against the Danes who rode 3:53:499; GB were fourth with a 3:54.
“In the Paris, round one of the World Cup we rode 3:57 to qualify then a 3:53 and 3:55 when the Italians beat us for the bronze medal.”
Bragging rights over GB, then?
“Yeah, that’s kinda nice.”
You made good progress from round one in Paris to round two in Milton.
“We were confident we would improve, we didn’t do the ride we were capable of in Paris and changed things around for Canada.
That was a lot of travelling between France and Canada.
“Yes but we put a lot of thought into it and had our sleep strategy planned.
“We had time in Canada to rest and do some rides on roads which were new to us – that’s always good.
“And we even fitted in some sightseeing – visiting Niagra Falls.”
The standard of team pursuiting is so much higher these last few years, isn’t it?
“Yes, a lot of guys are getting a taste for it, understanding the factors involved and becoming serious; Canada, France, Belgium have all improved so much and of course there’s the Danes, GB, the Aussies, New Zealand, Italy…”
New bikes, we see.
“Yes, we’re on Argon 18 Electron Pro; we’re still not sponsored so they cost a fair few quid but they’re an improvement on the Cervélos with the Aussies and Danes all on Argon now too.
“The Cervélos were nice but not as super integrated as the Argons; the bars especially are really well designed and they’re stiffer and slightly more aero than the Cervélos.
“You can also run bigger chainrings on them.”
Tricky helmets too for this season?
“Again we’re not sponsored by POC but we did a lot of helmet testing and that helmet works best with our positions.
“You can’t buy them anymore, they’ve stopped making them and we bought all of their stock.”
Any other ‘trick’ stuff you can tell us about?
“The skinsuits come from our sponsors HUUB and they’re special.
“HUUB are based in Derby, as we are and made their name in triathlon wetsuits and skinsuits where they are world leaders.
“One of their team was part of British Cycling’s ‘Secret Squirrels’ team with Chris Boardman, the group of ‘boffins’ who developed the GB ‘super bikes’ and world beating race clothing.
“The HUUB skinsuits are awesome, Johnny Wale’s skinsuit saves him 30 watts!”
On the subject of Mr. Boardman, have you visited his wind tunnel yet?
“Not yet but we have two sessions booked; Chris has been an absolute legend with us – he’s a gold mine of knowledge and has so many good contacts.”
[This was at time of writing – Dan & Co. have since visited the Boardman facility, ed.]
Berlin next and round three of the World Cup?
“We’ll be training hard for that one but it’ll be tough contest with three rides in one day and GB, Denmark, New Zealand and Australia will all be there.
“The Aussies are out of reach, they’re world record holders, after all; we’d like to get past the Danes – but they’re not slow either!”
And how about Aguascalientes and that super-fast track, the world record would surely be feasible for HUUB Wattbike on those boards?
“It’s something we’ve talked about, possibly early next year but remember we’ll be losing Harry Tanfield to his road commitments with Katusha?
“And it’s a long season and whist we want to go it’s a case of when? and how?”
It looks like the new sponsors have made the difference then?
“We’re riding a full World Cup programme this winter and there’s a lot less stress.
“Last year we had rely on volunteer helpers and do a lot ourselves but having a soigneur and mechanic to look after us and the bikes makes such a difference.
“The last thing you need a day or two before you’re up on the boards is to be faffing about with bicycles!”
That’s for sure!
The Derby men finished fourth in Berlin, not surprisingly the mighty Aussie team dominated from the re-emergent Danes who have a solid history in this discipline – surprisingly, the much improved Canadian quartet pipped the Huub boys for bronze.
The next World Cup is in London on 14th December – hopefully Dan & Co. can step back onto the podium in front of a home crowd?