Viktor tells me that we spend too much time speaking to riders from the past and are out of touch with the modern cyclist; ‘but I was just speaking to Harry Tanfield last night, he’s top rated UK rider for 2016 !’ I say to defend myself.
‘He’s a racing man, the cyclist of today is into Strava, Rapha, sportives and stupidly expensive bike – you don’t get into that so you’re out of touch!’ comes the reply.
It’s hard to win with that man.
We first spoke to Harry Tanfield a couple of years ago having seen him ride well in the Gordon Arms time trial – most recently we spoke to him after he won the David Campbell Memorial road race in Fife back in the spring of 2016.
So when we opened ‘Cycling Weekly’ recently and there he was spread across two pages as the UK’s number one rated Elite rider we thought we best ‘have a word.’
You’ve been busy since the Dave Campbell, Harry.
“Yeah, I did all the UK crits then I was in China racing – we were there for a month, home for a week then back for another month.
“Riding races in inland China and in the South of the country – it was a great experience and the level was pretty high, you’re up against the UCI Asia Tour teams.
“I was there from mid-August and finished racing at the end of October.
“I was top ten in the Tour de Poyang Lake, that’s a 12 day race and I managed to win a stage there, too.
“I also had a win in a one day race, the Tour of the Li River, and two top tens in stages of the Qanzhou Bay stage race – we also won the team prize.”
You seemed surprised when I messaged you to say you were number one in the rankings.
“No, I knew I was ranked number one but just didn’t realise I was in ‘The Comic.’
“It’s nice to be ranked number one but really it’s meaningless as far as UCI points go and there’s no money involved.
“It’s not something I consciously set out to do; I race for the enjoyment and the prize money.”
You were ‘up there’ in the Elite Crit Series too?
“I finished second overall to Seb Mora of Raleigh; it was close but he’s a hard guy to beat, I mean he’s World Scratch Champion on the track.
“I won a round and had two second spots so it’s maybe something I can win in 2017?”
Which result(s) gave you most satisfaction in 2016?
“I was second in the Durham Tour Series Crit on a very technical, tough course which I’d never ridden before – I think that was a good performance.
“The win in the Chepstow GP criterium was satisfying but I didn’t have a real stand-outs, I was pretty consistent albeit that win in Poyang Lake was pretty special.”
Is university finished for you now?
“No, I’m still there until May and had exams in January – I was going to stay on and do a Masters but that can wait, I want to ride my bike!”
The Pedal Heaven team has folded?
“Yes but quite a few of the guys, including me have followed our manager Tim Elverson across to his BIKE Channel Canyon team.
“Staff from Pedal Heaven have moved across, too – the assistant DS, mechanic so there’s continuity.
“It’s a Continental team and we hope to be riding a programme which takes us into Europe more.
“In Britain you really only have the Tour of Yorkshire and Britain where the big hitters are across the Channel; it’s easy to get stuck in a bubble in the UK, that’s why it was good to race in China – see what’s out there.
“We’ll be riding the Rás in Ireland and we’re hoping to be riding UCI races in Europe – and the Tours of Yorkshire and Britain if we can get into them – it’s all looking very positive.”
Have you got your new bike and clothing yet?
“We should be kitted out by February – there were some secondary sponsors to sort out so we couldn’t finalise the clothing until that was decided.”
And is it possible to live as a professional bike rider in Britain?
“I think it is; I live with my family so the money gets me by but if you’re one of the top 10 or 12 – Kristian House, Chris Opie, Ian Bibby then you can make a comfortable living.
“Then there’ll be 20 or 30 riders ‘getting by’, with the rest on ‘expenses only.’”
Has the build up for 2017 started yet?
“As I said, I was racing in China until late October so I chilled in November, but I had catching up to do with my university work.
“I went to Spain for a week before Christmas and got some good work in there – and I went back to Denia in January for 10 days, taking advantage of the nice weather there and cheap flights at this time of year.
“We have a team camp in February but I’m not sure if I’ll make that due to university commitments.”
What’s 2017 about for you, Harry?
“I want to try and improve on my road riding – I’m happy with how I’m going in crits.
“We have Chris Opie on the squad so I’ll be riding in support of him and on lead-out duties – not that many road races in the UK end in a bunch kick.
“My power is good but I’d like to lose a little bit of weight – and I was second in the Crit Series, so why not try to win it, this year?”
And we have to ask; ‘the Sky package’?
“Well, it all sounds a bit fishy – and someone’s telling porkies!”
Our thoughts exactly, Harry – we’ll be keeping an eye on Harry and his team through season 2017.