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Harry Tanfield – on his Silver Medal in the Commonwealth Games Times Trial

"Go out hard, go easier on the first climb then whack it up the main climb and hang on."

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Scotland’s Mark Stewart may have thwarted Cameron Meyer’s plan to take home a gold medal from the velodrome at the Commonwealth Games but the slim Aussie bounced back to take the individual time trial title on a hot day around the testing 37.8 kilometre circuit at Currumbin Beachfront. Taking silver was one of the remarkable brothers, 23 year-old Harry Tanfield, who finished 30 seconds behind the flying Meyer but two seconds ahead of Kiwi rower-turned-tester, Hamish Bond.

We’ve spoken to Harry several times over the years – generally when he comes north to pillage Scottish prize lists.

Last season saw him post some excellent results on the continent though, with top 10 finishes in Ronde van Overijssel, Memorial Philippe Van Coningsloo, St. Elooisprijs, Draai van de Kaai, GP Lucien Van Impe, GP Eugeen Roggeman and a fine second spot in Vlaamse/Antwerpse Havenpijl.

In addition he was fifth in the British Time Trial Championship and gained the same placing in the Duo Normand with pursuit star brother, Charlie.

With the year topped off nicely with a stage win in the UCI Tour of Quanzhou Bay in China.

We caught up with Harry on his way home from the airport, in the car, after his monster flight back from Oz.

Nice ride, Harry – did you realise how close Bond was to you at the end?

“No, I had no race radio so didn’t know any of the split times.”

What was your pacing strategy?

“Go out hard, go easier on the first climb then whack it up the main climb and hang on.

“It’s a while since I’d done a 45 minute effort so I rode it on feel rather than on power.”

Harry Tanfield
Harry rode to an impressive TT at the Games. Photo©British Cycling

Some competitors said the heat was pretty brutal?

“It wasn’t too much of a problem for me but I’d had four days training to acclimatise – the first day was pretty savage but you get used to it.

“I raced with ice in my skinsuit, it took 10 or 15 minutes to completely melt so that helped with the process of my body trying to keep cool.”

The ‘missing’ 30 seconds, could you have found them?

“Probably not, I was 20 seconds down at the first check and relatively speaking Meyer got slower after that.

“I was 20 seconds up on Bond at the first check but he came back at me.

“I think I had a little left in the tank but 30 seconds is a lot to find.

“I wasn’t nearly as wrecked as I was after the British Time Trial Championship on the Isle of Man, last year, I could hardly sit on the bike after that one.

“After the race I went out and did two hours…”

Harry Tanfield
Photo©Danny Lawson/PA

Tell us about the hardware.

“It was the full Katusha job, Canyon Speedmax with SRAM eTap groupset, rear disc and ENVE spoked front with Vittoria tubulars.

“I only got it from Canyon five days before the race and we had to get me set up on it; it’s a variation on my track position, not quite as aggressive, one I could sustain for almost an hour.

“I’d been riding the track bike all winter so the position couldn’t be too far away from that but I was pretty comfortable on it.”

How much notice did you get from British Cycling that you’d be riding?

“Since early February, so that wasn’t an issue.

“I spent most of February in Spain but my focus was more on the road than the time trial.

“Your body reacts to the change, for the track it’s all high intensity, low volume and when you go back to three/four hour road rides your system isn’t used to it – I actually got sick a couple of times in Spain just as a reaction to the increase in volume.”

Harry Tanfield
Harry gives it everything in the TT. Photo©John Cowpland /photosport.nz/SWpix.com

How was your road race?

“The circuit was pretty lumpy, the climbs weren’t that hard in themselves but after nine laps you started to feel them; everyone gets round the first few laps and then it starts to thin out – 50 finishers from 160 starters…

“My job was to cover the early moves, which I did – it’s not a bad place to be because you take the climbs much more steadily than you do in the bunch.

“Our move went to three minutes but we came back with about 25 K to go but we’d given it a good dig.

“It was a war of attrition on a selective course with the World Tour and Pro Conti guys best equipped to handle it.

“In the finale the Aussies just rode every one of their wheels and von Hoff was quickest at the end.”

What now, do you take a break?

“First up is get used to the time zone and then I have the Rutland [Highly competitive road race with plenty of dirt road sections, ed.].

“Then there’s a new race, the Klondike Grand Prix; then it’ll be the Tour of Yorkshire…”

The track bike goes in the attic then?

“Yeah, I’m back with Canyon-Eisberg for the road season, my ride with KGF is for the track in the winter.

“We’re at continental level and it’s a good set up; nice kit and nice bikes – I don’t think there’s a better team to be with in the UK.”

Harry Tanfield
Harry rode to stage win success in the Tour de Yorkshire after we spoke to him. Photo©Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Will we see you in continental action again, this year?

“That’s part of the plan, yes.

“But it’ll be a busy year at home with the races I’ve already mentioned, the Lincoln GP and Tour Series Criteriums plus all the travel that’s involved.

“But I had some decent results last year in UCI races and pro kermises in Belgium and The Netherlands; good hard racing – so I’ll be looking to do more of that, this year.”

We forgot to ask if we’ll be seeing him in Bonnie Scotland this year – but if the prize list is a fat one, no doubt he’ll be heading north again?

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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