It’s always good to see fellow Scots doing ‘the business’, especially when it involves bringing home a nice new national champion’s jersey.
MTB cum hill climb star Grant Ferguson was the man on this occasion; he took time to talk to VeloVeritas about his winning ride in the British U23 Cyclo-Cross Championships.
He did get his Worlds ‘cross tip wrong, though – but so did most of us.
Congratulations, Grant – was the Cyclo-Cross Champs a big goal, did you peak and taper for it?
“Yeah, it was a big goal to do well; I put some general work in before the Christmas period then over Christmas I put some specific work together to help put me in the best shape for the champs and it worked – so I’m very happy.”
What was the game plan before the start?
“I knew it would be a close race as lots of fellow under 23’s have been performing well over the National Trophy Series so my game plan was to be quite patient and see how the race unfolded before deciding how I would approach the finish.”
What was the parcours like?
“The champs were held at Derby this year which is a flat course based around a running track.
“Usually it can be very muddy but as our race was early in the morning it was frozen which made for a faster race than I first thought.
Talk us through the race, please.
“I was gridded front row which is important but from there I didn’t get the best of starts; I managed to move to the front after about half a lap, then fell off, so then I had to chase for a period before getting back to the front of the race and from there it was a race between Kenta (Gallacher) and I.
“It was a close race as Kenta was stronger in certain areas of the course and I felt good in others parts so it meant it would come down to the final lap.
“I made a few mistakes during the race but I managed to find myself towards the end and made a move about half a lap from the finish which worked and I was happy to defend my title.”
Tell us about your bike and tyre choice.
“I was riding an aluminium bike with Dugast tubs.”
Did you have to change machines many times?
“Yes, I was changing every lap and had a great pit crew helping me out which was ideal.
“The race got muddier throughout so it became more important to change bikes as the race progressed.”
On the subject of hardware – what’s your view on disc brakes?
“I have been riding them for the past three years on my ‘cross bike and when they are set up correctly I they work well and allow the mud to clear better around the frame.
“I think for the future the best way to go is hydraulic discs rather than cable discs and 140mm rotors would save some weight over a 160mm set up.”
And we had a Scottish one-two on the podium.
“Kenta and I spent most of the race together and it finished in a one-two which was great.”
Which GB programme are you on?
“I’m on the Olympic Academy Programme for Mountain Bike.”
Based in Manchester? – what’s the regime like?
“Yes, I’m based in Manchester – actually it’s where I’ve been for the past couple of years, and there’s great support there.
“The regime is good and it allows you to learn how to become the best possible athlete.
“During the race season we spend a lot of time competing and travelling which means in the summer we don’t spend so much time in Manchester.”
How did season 2013 go for you?
“I was pleased with my 2013 season; I managed to achieve my goals which included the British Championships and some top five results at World Cups – so it was a successful year for me.”
Did you ride much ‘Cross over the winter of 2013/14?
“I rode a couple of ‘cross races this season.
“When I was at home in October I took part in the second round of the Scottish ‘cross series, after that I didn’t compete again until the final National Trophy round which was the first weekend in January followed by the Championships a week later.”
What’s your race programme until the spring?
“Until the spring I will be focusing on the first British mountain bike rounds and working towards the opening round of the World Cup in South Africa.”
Who coaches you?
“Phil Dixon is my coach.”
What’s the plan for 2014 – MTB or/and road?
“My main goals for 2014 are the mountain bike event at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and to perform in the World Cup series and Championship events.
“I hope to get the chance to race some road during the 2014 season as well.”
What was the highlight of 2013 for you?
“I had lot of highlights in 2013 but the main one would be winning the British Championships for Elite Men in mountain bike on the Commonwealth Games course which I was very pleased with.”
Who’s going to win the Elite Worlds ‘Cross?
“I think it will either go to the man with all the experience or the young gun, Sven Nys or Lars van der Haar.”
Stybar spoiled that prediction, though!