Tuesday, September 21, 2021
HomeInterviewsGrant Ferguson - Winning the U23 UCI MTB World Cup at Val...

Grant Ferguson – Winning the U23 UCI MTB World Cup at Val di Sole!

-

It was back in February when we last spoke to Grant Ferguson (Brentjens MTB Team); he’d just finished a solid 13th in the Herald Sun Tour, ‘Down Under’ against opposition of the highest order – with the race being win by Cameron Meyer of World Tour outfit, Orica-GreenEDGE.

And there was a fourth on GC in Ireland’s Ras Mumhan in April to add to his road credentials.

But tarmac isn’t his first love; his passion involves much fatter tyres, lots of mud – and these days, just one chainring.

His MTB season kicked off in Cyprus where he took a stage win in the ‘Cyprus Sunshine Cup.’

And after a couple of seasons of near misses, the British U23 ‘cross and Elite MTB Champion has finally reached the top of the international MTB slippery pole with an excellent win in the U23 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at Val di Sole in Italia.

Second was Titouan Carod (France) who’s the 2015 U23 World Cup overall winner, emphasising the quality of the Scotsman’s win.

On the eve of the Mountain Bike Worlds in Vallnord, Andorra we had a word with the man from Peebles as he put the finishing touches to his Worlds prep at the GB altitude training base in Livigno.

He’s come a long way from getting DQ-ed from the Scottish Hill Climb Champs for riding his road bike up Purrinden with no back brake a few years ago, ‘to save weight.’

Grant Ferguson
Grant takes his first World Cup victory after numerous podiums and near-misses.

Great ride, Grant – I believe this was the last round of the World Cup, how did you do overall?

“Yeah, the sixth and last round so it was nice to finally get the win – my overall World Cup standing isn’t great though because I was DNF in two rounds with punctures/mechanicals.”

[Carod won the competition with 362 points; Ferguson was sixth on 220 points, ed.]

What’s the Val di Sole track like?

“They’ve held the Worlds there in the past; it’s hilly and pretty technical plus it rained overnight making it slippery for the six laps we cover at in the U23’s.”

How’s your international form been, this year?

“I’ve been close to the podium twice in World Cups with two fourth places; at Windham, New York and Albstadt, Germany, just seconds off the podium – and I had silver in the European U23 MTB Championships behind the Spanish rider Guede.

“This win is off the back of us training here at altitude in Livigno to prepare for the Worlds in Andorra.

“I made sure I had a good start – that’s very important – and got away with a couple of French guys; I just waited, had a couple of digs to test them, got away with one of the French guys, chose my spot to attack, got the gap then rode home solo – I was picking my lines very carefully on that last lap, I didn’t want any falls or punctures!”

Grant Ferguson
Finishing in splendid isolation.

Are the U23 races well supported?

“There were good crowds towards the end of the race, we started early at 09:00 am before the women’s and men’s races so the crowd built as the morning went on.”

You have a busy season, when do you get a rest?

“I ride ‘cross in the winter then road as prep for the MTB season then into the MTB World Cups which start in May, the British and European Champs then the Worlds then back into ‘cross but I’ll take a break after the Worlds then get the ‘cross bike out of the garage.

“I hope to ride a few more international ‘cross events, this winter.”

How big a representation does GB have at the MTB Worlds?

“The team totals 30 but that includes ladies, juniors, downhill – for Men’s U23 we have two selections; me and Ian Paton who’s also from Scotland.

“It’s not like the road where you have to gain qualification points, it’s down to each national federation to make their own selections.”

I see you’ve gone SRAM single ring x 11 – tubeless too?

“The single ring is a lot simpler with no front changer to worry about and less cable it makes the bike ‘cleaner;’ if it’s hilly I’ll ride a 30 or 32 chain ring if it’s flat then a 34 ring.

“And yes, we’re on tubeless, they have sealant in them and will self seal a ‘slow’ – so unless you gash a sidewall you can get to the pits and in the U23’s were allowed to change wheels.”

Grant Ferguson
Grant’s preparation for the World Championship is on course.

The Worlds?

“My season is structured to peak for them and I’m obviously going well.

“I’ve ridden the course in Andorra before, three years ago it’s hilly, not too technical but it’s at altitude of course, 2,000 metres and that’s why we’re here at Livigno – which is at 1,800 metres – to get our bodies used to it.

“You have to be careful at altitude because if you go into the red it takes a lot longer to come out of it than it does at sea level.”

VeloVeritas promises to keep a weather eye on the MTB Worlds and monitor Mr. Ferguson’s performance – we’re supposed to be impartial but can’t help but wish him, ‘all the best’ for the race.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Mark West – the Welshman in Charge of Africa’s “Most Exciting” UCI MTB Team!

When we photographed the National Champion of Lesotho, Phetetso Monese in action at last year's Commonwealth Games MTB race in Glasgow, little did we know that key to his - and the nation's - burgeoning success was a Welshman, Mark West. Mark got in touch with us recently to ask if we'd be interested in hearing more about Monese's country and the background to his appearance on the Cathkin Braes and we jumped at the chance.

Book Review – “World’s Ultimate Cycling Races”

The new book by respected cycling journalist Ellis Bacon may help - the "World's Ultimate Cycling Races" is an eclectic mix of facts and stats about events all over the globe, from Pro level races such as the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana to MTB races, Gran Fondos and Sportives that anyone can take part in.

Dan Fleeman – New MTB Team; Forme Coaching-Pactimo-Cannondale

I remember the first time I met Dan Fleeman; 2007 in the days before Twitter, The Shack, LanceGate, the slick marketing of the ‘Flanders Classics’ and the World Tour. Vik still used to go to pro races; before he was too badly scarred by the World Tour – the Tour of Beijing was the last nail in the coffin.

Grant Ferguson – Third in the U23 MTB World Championships!

It’s that man Ferguson again, not content with winning the last U23 MTB World Cup of the year he’s gone and taken bronze in the U23 Worlds in Andorra – we had to have ANOTHER word or two with him...

At Random

Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial Championship 2013 – Meet Ben Peacock

He has a beard (but he’s not Fabio Baldato), he’s not a fan of disc wheels and would eventually like to cycle around the world; he also took victory in the Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial Championship – meet Whitley Bay and Paisley Velo’s Ben Peacock.

Ethan Hayter – World Team Pursuit Champion at 19

In 2016 in Belgium Ethan Hayter won the tough junior races, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, GP Serge Baguet, De Klijte-Heuvaelland, was in the winning team in junior European team pursuit champs and was British Madison champion with Joe Holt. Last year he won the u23 Berlin Six Day with Matt Walls, took a medal in every British track championship he rode and was part of the winning u23 Europeans team pursuit squad. This season he began training with the senior team in January and was world champion within weeks, at 19 years-of-age.

Davie Lines – A New Team for 2014: Starley Primal

VeloVeritas has just about caught up with merry-go-round of new teams and transfers for 2014 – and one of the rotations we noticed is that former Scottish Criterium Champion, Davie Lines moves from the baby blue of MG Maxifuel Pro Cycling to the more aggressive red and black of Starley Primal Pro Cycling. Here’s what he had to say to VeloVeritas just the other day...

Dan Fleeman Does the Sam

Thursday 11:00 pm and the Giro is just a memory. Reality, work, bills and the Transit; tomorrow, Dan Fleeman is coming up for the Sam Robinson - best grab some sleep. Friday 07:00 am - where am I?

The David Bell Memorial Road Race 2010 goes to Evan Oliphant

Another race, another Endura clean sweep on a glorious day for the David Bell Memorial Road Race at picturesque Straiton; Evan Oliphant winning solo from team mates Ross Creber and Gary Hand; these two crossing the line hand in hand to remind us of their team's spirit - as if we'd forget?

John McMillan – Scottish Star of the 60’s and 70’s

When I started cycling back in 1971 I quickly learned that there were five men I should stand in awe of; Belgians, Eddy Merckx - no explanation necessary - and Patrick Sercu, world sprint champion, Olympic kilometre champion and Grand Tour stage winner; Danish super stylist, world hour record holder Ole Ritter; British 25 mile record holder, Alf Engers and long term Scottish 25 mile record holder, John McMillan. Over the years I’ve managed to get my picture taken with Eddy and Ole, interviewed Alf and have even had the odd chat with Patrick.