Erick Rowsell is a name which seems to have been around for a long time; maybe because he was winning British medals five years ago — in 2007 he took bronze in the junior road race and individual pursuit as well as gold in the junior time trial.
The following season saw him with strong placings in continental road events; win the junior Tour of Wales and the British junior road race championship – whilst on the track he took two junior European silver medals, in the individual and team pursuit.
The following two seasons the medal tally slowed down, but in 2011 he was in the GB teams which came third in the team pursuit in the Beijing World Cup and second at the U23 European championships.
On the road he took third in the U23 Tour of Berlin and 11th in the U23 Het Nieuwsblad.
But for 2012 he leaves behind the shelter of the British Cycling Academy and has to fend for himself among the pros — with Brian Smith’s ever strengthening Endura squad.
It was Kingsnorth stalwart and ‘Brit gone native in Flanders,’ Ian Whitehead who put us in touch with the 21 year-old from Surrey; ‘he was one of my regulars back in the days when I brought over the youngsters to race in Belgium. He won two schoolboy and two junior races when he was over here in Belgium with us — I was at all four with him. His first win with the juniors was on my birthday and he dedicated it to me.’
VeloVeritas caught up with Erick just after the turn of the year.
How did you get the Endura gig, Erick?
“I’ve done my spell in the Academy and it’s time to move on — Chris Newton from British Cycling spoke to Brian Smith and Julian Winn at Endura and we agreed terms.”
You were in Tuscany with the Academy?
“Yes, my first two seasons were spent there — those were some of the best times of my life.
“I know that it doesn’t suit everyone because there’s not much happening — but it’s great if you like to ride your bike and drink good coffee!
“For 2011 we were back in Manchester but because we had such a busy race programme and travelled a lot the longest we spent there was maybe six or seven days.”
You enjoyed being with the Academy, then?
“I was really happy on it, I learned so much and it didn’t ‘hold me back’ at all — but it’s time to move on now and do my own thing.
“I had different coaches and learned from all of them — max Sciandri, Chris Newton and Paul Manning are all very knowledgeable guys.”
You have a good history in team pursuit; couldn’t you have taken that direction?
“Yes, it’s a discipline I’ve always been involved with — but I’m not quite at top flight.
“I was good as a junior and U23 team pursuit rider but I see my future on the road.”
You rode a few UiV Cups?
“I rode a few, yes — including Zürich and Amsterdam.
“They were good, a great experience on those small tracks with the big crowds and the Six Day atmosphere.”
And the Baby Giro?
“Yeah, I rode that twice, it was a real baptism of fire, especially the first time when I’d gone from junior to U23.
“It was great racing but you have to be able to climb — I raced there for two years and think I rode one flat race in that time.”
You rode a good World Championships in Copenhagen with Andy Fenn getting bronze.
“It was really good, yes; the role of the team was to ride solely for Luke Rowe and Andy, help them out however we could — and of course that paid off.
“The whole team did their job and it was good to finish my time at the Academy on a ‘high’ like that.”
What about training for this season?
“It’ll be different this season, normally this would be the time I’m doing track training but my first race of the season will be the Challenge Mallorca and that’s what I’m preparing for.”
Do you have a coach now to guide you?
“No, I’ve done my own thing over the last few years but I still listen carefully to advice.
“My training is a bit of the old and the new — whilst I don’t specifically train on power and tend to go towards doing a lot of miles, I do incorporate specific efforts into my training.’
When do you go to training camp?
“We go to Mallorca on January 22nd for three weeks, during that time we’ll ride the Challenge Mallorca — that’s five days of racing where you can ride all of the days to qualify for the GC or just ride a few days to suit you.
“The whole team will be there so it’s going to be a good experience — we had hoped that half of the team would then go to ride the Tour of the Med but that’s a little uncertain.”
Does the team give any advice on training?
“Not really, that’s perhaps the main difference between being on the Academy and being with a pro team — the only instruction is to turn up at the training camp fit, healthy and ready to go.
‘Apart from that you’re pretty much left to your own devices; it’s up to you — and I’m enjoying the freedom that bestows on you.”
How’s the programme looking?
We have Mallorca then I’ll ride the Perf’s Pedal race back in England before hopefully riding the Tour du Haut Var, Le Samyn and Three Days of West Flanders.
“Then we have some UK racing before going back for the Tour du Finistere, Tro Bro Leon and Tour de Bretagne.”
Have you thought about living and riding full-time on the continent.
“It’s something I’d consider — I did it when I was younger, I got David Rayner funding and raced in Belgium.”
Your sister is on the GB track team — do you get along OK?
“We get on really well, it’s cool that we’re both into the same sport — but she started first.
“Her main focus is London 2012 in the team pursuit, we train together.
“The only thing is that sometimes she pulls rank on me when it comes down to what we’re going to watch on TV, she’ll say; ‘World Champions get first choice!’: That’s hard to argue with!”
What’s 2012 about for you?
“Something completely new, a chance to carry on developing, learn about different races, help my team get results — and it would be nice to get some results myself!”