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Chris Fennell – British 25 Mile Time Trial Champion 2019

"I approached the race like any other and my performance would be the best I could give on the day."

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Alf Engers, Dave Lloyd, Sean Yates, Graeme Obree, Chris Boardman – just some of the names you join on the roll of honour when you win the British 25 Mile Time Trial Championship. ‘Man of the hour’ – or rather, 46 minutes and seven seconds – was 23 year-old student Chris Fennell [Team Independent Pedaler] who beat Phil Williams [Liverpool Phoenix CC] by 26 seconds with regular on Scottish roads, Adam Wild [GS Metro] third with 46:57.

In true VeloVeritas tradition we ‘had a word.’

Chris Fennell
Chris Fennell. Photo©supplied

Congratulations on the title Chris, the basics first please, how old are you, where are you from and family situation?

“I’m 24 and from Ramsgate in Kent.

“I’m a student, just finishing my Masters by Research, planning to carry on into a PhD.

“My elder brother competes in time trials too, and mum, dad and my younger sister support us.”

How did you get into the bike?

“I got my first road bike at the end of 2011, and decided I was going to complete Lands End to John O’Groats in the summer of 2012.

“Which I completed riding solo in eight days (with Dad supporting from a motorbike and the rest of the family from a campervan), raising £2500 for Help for Heroes in the process.

“I was then lucky enough to spend most of the 2012 Olympics track centre at the velodrome, thanks to my club at the time Thanet RC.

“Then I started racing properly in 2013 and it all went from there.”

The race was moved back a month due to bad weather on the original date; how did the date change for the affect you?

“The date change really had no effect on me.

“With over a month between the original race date and the new race date, I was easily able to adjust my training and re-focus.”

You were pre-race favourite, did you feel any pressure going in to the race?

“I would say I was ‘one’ of the pre-race favourites, the start sheet was packed with top domestic TT riders, including Marcin Bialoblocki the defending Champion (although not all would start the race).”

[According to Cycling Weekly, Bialoblocki was on ‘family holiday’ but VeloVeritas believes that the big Polish flyer has moved back to Poland on a permanent basis, a contention backed up by the recent appearance of his road race Pinarello in the ‘for sale’ column of Cycling Weekly. ed.]

“That said, I didn’t feel any additional pressure, I approached the race like any other and my performance would be the best I could give on the day.”

Chris Fennell
Photo©supplied

How did you judge your pace – are we allowed to ask about your watts?

“I rode to power, knowing it would be a very even effort around the course.

“I had a target power range of 380 to 400W (400W being the upper limit of what I can do for a 25 mile TT).

“My average power for the race was 382W; I paced my ride well and couldn’t have given any more on the course on the day.”

Tell us about your training, please – do you have a coach and was there a special build-up for the championship?

“I coach myself.

“My training is completed predominantly on the turbo with specific sessions I have tested and dialled in.

“There wasn’t a special build up to the championship as such.

“I would attribute the progress this year to our multifaceted approach focusing not only on the physical training but also: sport psychology, nutrition, equipment.

“While creating an athlete development programme which addresses the key aspects to performance, as well as the finer details.”

Tell us about your bike please – frame, wheels, tyres, gears, ceramic bearings, waxed chain?

“Sure. My frame is a Giant Trinity, with our custom team paint work (Courtesy of Barrett’s BMW of Kent). I use HED Jet Black wheels, 90mm front and Disc (with custom decals courtesy of Micklecreative solutions),

“Tyres are Vittoria Corsa Speed, setup tubeless, and I use a Quarq power meter and 62T pyramid chainring.

“Ceramic Speed provide the oversized derailleur pulley wheels, and I use ceramic bearings and a waxed Ceramic Speed chain.”

Tell us about how you arrived at your position?

“My position has come about through trial and error, I didn’t arrive at it using bike fit or aero testing…

“However, we plan to go aero testing this winter, in the search of more gains.”

Are there any riders you would class as role models?

“My TT role model has to be Michael Hutchinson; the first memory I have of a national championship was watching Michael and Matt Bottrill racing for the National 10 mile TT title.

“I’ve also always been a fan of great TT riders, Tony Martin, Bradley Wiggins, Rohan Dennis, to name but a few.”

Chris Fennell
Photo©supplied

Tell us about Team Independent Pedaler please.

The Independent Pedaler is a cycling coffee house/restaurant situated in the Kent countryside, just outside Canterbury near the village of Bridge.

“I met the owner Aaron while he was building the café, I was looking to sell coffee and the chocolates I was making at the time.

“Aaron had been and still is a passionate cyclist, from racing in Belgium to completing numerous ironman triathlons.

“Over time we talked about racing and what it would take to achieve my goals in time trialling.

“The team then grew from there, starting with myself and Emma Lewis in 2018.

“Through Aaron’s hard work and dedication, we entered 2019 with a host of amazing sponsors: The Independent Pedaler, The Oak and Rope Company, Under Armour, Rocket Espresso, Nopinz, Barretts BMW, Traders coffee bay, Canterbury cycle centre, Mickle Creative Solutions.

“All of whom have made the 2019 season possible.

“At Team Independent Pedaler it is our long-term goal to support more riders to achieve their cycling ambitions.

“The science and performance driven programme Aaron and I have been working on with the team, is a key element we will be further developing and applying over the coming seasons.”

What are your personal bests for 10, 25, 50?

“For a ’10’ – 18:01,

“a ’25’ – 44:58,

“and a ’50’ – 1:39:41”

Do you ride longer distances?

“The longest TT I have ridden is 100 miles a few years ago which I completed in 3 hours 34 min.

“I have no intentions on taking on a 12 hour or 24 hour any time soon.”

How about road racing?

“I did a few years of road racing when I first started riding.

“However, it was not really for me and I decided to put all my focus into TT racing.”

What’s still ‘to do’ for you?

“I would love to win the British National Time Trial Championships and pull on the stripes.

“But ultimately if I can continue racing and enjoy it in the process surrounded by a great team, that’s what keeps me motivated.”

Congratulations again to Chris, we wish him well for the rest of the season.

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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