‘Harry Tanfield joins Katusha,’ said the headlines, this week.
VeloVeritas first caught sight of this young man when he won the David Campbell Memorial Road Race over the tough Cults Hills in the Kingdom of Fife in 2013.
In 2014 he was in the colours of KTM and finished third in the Gordon Arms Time Trial in the Scottish Borders; that was the year that VeloVeritas soothsayer, Vik started to spot Harry’s name in the Belgian kermises with podiums in places like Hakendover, Belsele and Lauwe.
Harry joined JLT-Condor for 2015 and there were solid results in the UK – third in The Rutland; Ireland – stage podiums in the Tour of Munster and in China, where he placed on a stage in the Poyang Lakes race.
For 2016 he was with Pedal Heaven, back at the Poyang Lakes he took a stage and closer to home was burning up the UK criteriums, winning in Chepstow and finishing eventual second in the Elite Criterium Series.
A year later, in 2017 he was with Bike Channel-Canyon and there was a raft of criterium results in the UK and kermis placings in Belgium; where he made the podium in the GP Lucien Van Impe and UCI 1.2 Vlaamse/Antwerpse Havenpijl.
And there was a stage win in the Quanzhou Bay stage race in China as well as fifth in the Duo Normand with his brother Charlie.
This year he’s been on fire, adding track results to his burgeoning road palmares – British Elite Pursuit Champion, second in the omnium and third in the team pursuit.
On the road there were two prestigious Dutch podiums in the Midden-Brabant Poort Omloop and Ronde van Oveijssel plus a stunning Stage One victory in the Tour of Yorkshire.
On the UK Criterium scene he’s won in Aberystwyth and Stevenage and had top placings in places as diverse as Salisbury and Motherwell.
Against the watch he was second in the Commonwealth Games Time Trial behind Cameron Meyer and in the British TT Championships was bested only by Tour de France winner, Geraint Thomas but ahead of chrono specialist and former World Hour Record holder, Alex Dowsett.
He also produced one of the fastest 10 mile time trials in history – 17:11 [34.918 mph] on what’s not one of the recognised rapid courses.
VeloVeritas caught up with him a few days after his move to the Swiss/Russian squadra hit the browsers.
The thing about a Harry Tanfield interview is that no matter how big the result he never gets too excited – and signing with a World Tour team for two seasons doesn’t seem such a big deal for the 23 year-old from Great Ayton in north east England.
We kicked off by asking – over a bad phone line – about the rumours we’d heard back at the British Championships that he may be signing with the Swiss/Russian squadra.
“No, the deal wasn’t done then, not until the end of July – maybe it’s just because I was on that nice Katusha team Canyon bike?”
Was there any one ride which tipped the balance towards the team signing him?
“No, it doesn’t really work like that, more their looking at my results over the last two years.”
Did you have an agent who’d been emailing off his CV to the Pro Conti. and World Tour teams?
“No, it was my team manager, Tim Elverson at Canyon-Eisberg who spoke to teams who ride Canyons… I had other options but went for the Katusha ride.”
Is it too early to discuss your programme for 2019?
“A bit, we have a get together in Spain in December so we’ll know a bit more then and there’s a training camp in January where I guess they’ll firm it up.”
What about track ambitions?
“I’ll be riding the track between now and the end of October, I’ll be in Glasgow, next weekend – but when I start on my road programme with the team then the track will have to go on ‘hold.’”
And where will ‘home’ be when he starts his cosmo Katusha adventure?
“I dunno, I’ve not thought about it too much.
I’ll probably stay in Derby for now but get over to Spain for December and January, coming home for Xmas.”
Will joining the World Tour mean a change to his coaching arrangements?
“My coach is Craig Stevenson, I’ve been with him for four years now; we’ll sit down with the team around the table and work out how it’s going to work, I’m sure.”
What are your hi-lites of 2018?
“Second in the time trial Nationals was nice; the Tour crit series was fun and it was nice to do that quick ‘10’ – a 17:11.”
In true understated Harry fashion, we had to remind him about his Commonwealth Games time trial silver.
“Oh, yeah, that was all right…”
We were at the National Road race and saw the unusual sight of you off the back early in the day…
“That was a shocker – I punctured at eight kilometres in and then again at 15 kilometres, I had to chase hard, it just one of those days and I was DNF.”
And the rest of 2018?
“I have the Glasgow track and the ‘10’ Champs in Scotland but the biggest event will be the Chrono des Nations in France.
“It’d have been nice to ride the Duo Normand with Charlie again but it doesn’t fit in with his programme.”
Has you been brushing up on your Russian phrases?
“Eh? The team is Swiss!”
VeloVeritas had to remind Harry that ‘Katusha’ is a Russian folk song, written in 1938 which became a rallying song for the beleaguered Russian troops and civilians to boost morale during the Second World War.
And there was, of course, a Russian multiple rocket launcher named after the song.
And as the team website says:
“The origins of Team KATUSHA began in late 2008 when Mr. Igor Makarov was successful in licensing the first Russian cycling team licensed to compete at the highest level of cycling, over the years the team has evolved into an international project.”
We’ll keep you right, Harry.
Joking apart it’s great to see a young man realise his ambitions – it’s a long way from the Cadgers Brae in Fife to the World Tour as a team mate of the likes of Tony Martin and Ilnur Zakarin.
We wish him all the very best and will keep an eye on his performances.