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Dan Gardner – The GB Rider Racing at the World Championships for the US Team Astellas

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GB riders in the Men’s Elite TTT?

Alex Dowsett for Movistar with nice ride for bronze, such a pity he left Sky and joined those dodgy Spanish boys…

Still, could have been worse, a Russian team, or even worse, Kazakh – they’re just not pure like us Anglo’s.

I’m sure there’s been some mistake with Tom Danielson…

But I digress; Team Sky had Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard – when do those boys get a rest?

And that’s our whack, right?

Wrong.

Check out rider number 243, licence holder GBR 19960306, Dan Gardner, Great Britain, Astellas Cycling Team, USA.

‘Best have a word with this boy,’ we thought to ourselves…

Dan Gardner
Dan Gardner in the Astellas squad at the World Championships. Photo©Jamie McCollum

A ride in the Worlds, Dan – it must have been a terrific experience?

“It’s not something I expected to be saying this time last year, that’s for sure!

“We were never going to be competitive against the big boys, but learning to prepare and ride in such a big event was valuable for our young team.

“Plus all the technical skills involved with team time trailing.”

How long before the race did you know you’d be riding – tell us about your preparation, please.

“As soon as the UCI announced in April that American Continental teams could ride, our team management along with most of the riders expressed interest.

“How could you turn down such a great opportunity?

“The team selection was decided in early August so then it was a case of integrating some TT workouts into my training before a short team camp in Chicago at the end of the month.”

Tell us about your team bikes.

“I rode the Litespeed Blade with a FFWD disk and 90mm front.

“I’m grateful towards all of our sponsors for stepping up to make it all possible.

“I hope they got some good exposure in exchange.

“Pactimo even designed a special edition skinsuit for us!”

What was the course like – the fans looked a little thin on the ground…

“Most of it was just a blur if I’m honest, tunnel visioned on the wheel in front.

“Although I remember the last kilometre up Governor Street being a wall of noise, it was special.”

Why did you decide to ride in the States?

“I always wanted to travel when school finished.

“So a season in the States and a winter’s training in Australia has more than satisfied my hunger to explore as well as assisting my cycling career.”

Dan Gardner
Dan has benefitted from racing in the USA this season. Photo©BLoomingCyclistPhilly

Tell us about your team, Astellas – how did you get the ride?

“Matt Green has been a mentor and cycling role model for me ever since I got serious.

“He has been on the team for three seasons now and suggested last year that it would be a good move.

“I trusted him and it’s paid off, I truly believe that the U.S. has an extensive and almost undiscovered cycling pathway for young riders.

“I couldn’t have dreamed of a better programme as a first year u23.

“Astellas team management genuinely has the riders best interests at heart and are looking to develop us.

“It’s a great setup.”

Where’s ‘home’ in the US – and how do you like the ‘US way’?

“I’ve had a place I’m Milwaukee, Wisconsin however we’ve had such a busy schedule it was easier to ‘house hop’ for the second half of the season.

“And I think the key with the US way is the fact that there isn’t a ‘way’…

“There is so much opportunity and variability that you can mould yourself into any rider and person you want to be.

“That’s the American dream right there!”

Dan Gardner
The young Astellas team soak up the experience of the Worlds. Photo©Dominion

You’re a Rayner rider?

“Yes, the David Rayner Fund has made this year financially possible and I am forever grateful for the help.

“It’s funny; I have a teammate (crit and cross guru, Adam Myerson) who actually was teammates with Dave himself.

“So it was fascinating to find out more about the man who indirectly has so much influence on my racing.”

What were your results like in the UK?

“I had reasonable results as a junior in the UK, I finished fifth at the Tour of Wales last year but I was also devoting lots of my time to studying for my A levels.

“My favourite junior races were in Belgium, I picked up two wins and a couple of podiums; I’m positive I’ll be back there at some point.”

21st in the Tour de Beauce, that’s a tough race so not a bad ride.

“Thanks.

“It’s not a result that will rock the world but it important to me, putting down on paper some proof of development.

“I’d felt the improvements but it took some patience to translate into results.”

You rode Philly, that must have been a great experience?

“Philly and Redlands were the two races that I’d heard of when looking at my calendar at the start of the year.

“It has so much history and I really felt that in the ambience amongst the riders and fans.

“America’s very own Ardennes classic.

“It was easy to go deep with all the screaming fans, my teammate nearly had to push me up Manayunk Wall to avoid tumbling backwards in the finish – I was that cracked.”

Which ride(s) give you most satisfaction, this year?

“It was a crit at the Tour of America’s Dairylands.

“My teammate Brandon Feehery and I made the break and I emptied myself to make sure we lapped the field.

“We made it with only one lap to go and the rest of the team brought him up to take the win.”

Dan Gardner
Dan (r) and his teammates enjoyed the experience of racing at the highest level. Photo©Brenda Feehery

Do you have a coach – what’s the training philosophy?

“Yes I’m coached by Alan Denman from Project 51.

“He took me on as a clueless 16 year-old and has since been the backbone to this journey.

“It’s always been more about finding out what gets me going, learning to feel and understand my body and enjoying it – because that’s what makes me go fast.

“Sometimes a slightly unorthodox route but we’re looking at the bigger picture and having this similar ethos means we work well together.”

What’s the plan for the winter?

“I’m on my way home now for a few months of grounding myself away from the rock star life I’ve been living.

“I will have a regular job and spend some quality time with my family.

By the second half of the off-season I’ll be back down to earth and desperate to make the most of two months hard training near Almeria in Spain.”

2016?

“I would like to spend one more year with Astellas and on the US circuit.

“But nothing is confirmed yet.”

Nice to see a GB boy making it to the Worlds under his own steam and riding that same tarmac as BMC’s Oss & Co – we’ll be keeping an eye out for him in 2016, for sure.

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.

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