Sunday, July 25, 2021
HomeInterviewsHarrison Wood - Moving up to SEG Racing Academy for 2020

Harrison Wood – Moving up to SEG Racing Academy for 2020

"I feel like it's a great match; I want to learn and they have a program fully oriented to the rider's development."

-

What do double Scheldeprijs and Vuelta stage winner, Dutch Elite Road Race Champion, Fabio Jakobsen [Deceuninck Quickstep], his countryman, Nokere Koerse winner Cees Bol [Sunweb] and Tour of Britain time trial winner, Edoardo Afinni [Mitchelton Scott for 2020 & Italy] have in common?

They’re all a product of the Dutch SEG Racing Academy – as one can observe, it’s not just any youngster who gets a ride with this outfit.

But ‘Brit’ Harrison Wood, who recently finished a solid top 10 in the Chrono des Nations (as well as seventh in the CTT National Hill Climb Championships), will be riding in SEG colours for 2020.

Here’s what he had to say to us about his career so far and his move to the u23 Big League…

Harrison Wood
Photo©Multipole Berre

How did you get into cycling, Harrison?

“I used to play a lot of football when I was younger so I actually only rode my bike for a bit of fun and also to do something when it was not the football season.

“I gave up football when I was 13 years-old and started riding my bike a bit more, too and from my dad’s work where I used to help out.

“It just went from there really but I only really started racing properly as a first year junior due to exams.

“I owe a lot to the Mid Devon Cycling Club where I would regularly take part in Saturday morning skill based sessions and also then some GoRide races. They also helped support me through the junior ranks.”

Are you a ‘David Rayner Fund man’?

“Yes, I am indeed a ‘Rayner’ man. It is a fantastic fund to be honest.

“This season would simply not have been possible without the Dave Rayner Fund, so I owe them a lot and I’m extremely grateful for their support this season.

“With the fund also becoming a recognised charity in 2020 it can only bring positives to the young UK riders who have aspirations of racing and living abroad.”

How would you describe yourself as a rider?

“That is certainly a great question!

“From racing in France this year I have learnt that you need to be good enough on all terrains if you intend to be competitive.

“I’m only 62 kgs in the racing season at around 186 cm so I would consider myself more of a climber.

“I obviously understand that nowadays you cannot neglect other disciplines so I like to also focus and maintain my time trialling ability.

“Something that I also find helps with those longer climbing efforts but also those days when you are in the breakaway.

“My sprint from a small group also isn’t too bad!”

Photo©William Cannarella

You rode a 25 mile time trial in 49:18 as a junior, pretty quick!

“Yes, that was a nice time I thought!

“I have always actually enjoyed time trialling and as a second year youth A it was all I focused on due to school exams.

“I wanted to ensure I had good qualifications because the sport of cycling is very hard and not everyone can achieve their dreams.

“That year allowed me to do a fair few time trials and a sub 50 minute 25 mile TT as a junior was always an aim…”

Tell us about your Belgian Soenens Boom team, how did you get that ride for 2018?

“Quite an interesting story really…

“I was coming into the second year junior ranks looking to get myself some good racing experiences abroad so I reached out to a Dutch DS/friend Tom Shellekens who managed to find me a place on this team.

“It was to be self-funded but they had a nice calendar.

“I could race in the UK for Mid Devon Cycling and receive their support whilst also sampling some high quality races abroad such as Nokere Koerse, Aubel Thimister Stavelot and E3 Harelbeke.”

In 2018 you rode in Poland and Spain – was that with your Belgian club team –  were they good experiences?

“Poland was certainly an experience… it was carnage to be honest. It was almost like a war just for the gear check.

“I learnt a lot there whilst also picking up a fifth on a stage in a UCI 2.1 stage race.

“I raced in Spain with HMT cycling team who were running a small European calendar.

“Soenens allowed me to race with them which was very good of them and meant I could show myself on the hillier terrains.

“I was sixth overall in the Junior Basque Tour.

“This was a good experience of racing up some proper mountains and also showed me that I wanted to race on the continent in 2019.”

AVC AiX for 2019, why the move from Belgium to France?

“I only really raced in Belgium a handful of times due to the cost of actually getting there from the South West of England.

“For me as a first year u23 I was looking to get myself abroad in either Spain or France to show myself on the hillier terrains.

“I reached out to a handful of teams and AVC AIX were the biggest team that replied to me…

“They had a great calendar and also a pressure free zone which meant I could learn and never feel under huge pressure to perform.

“Something I enjoyed being only 18 years-old.”

Was it a good setup?

“It was a nice setup, definitely.

“The south of France isn’t too bad a place to live I guess…

“I was well looked after at races and enjoyed a nice mixture of races from hillier French Elite Nationals, Italian UCI events, mountain races to short technical local criterium races.

“It really allowed me to try and develop all aspects of my racing whilst also learning a lot about myself off the bike due to living abroad by myself for much of the season.”

Harrison Wood
Photo©Ana Dominguez

How has the leap from junior to u23 been?

“It has certainly been a very rewarding experience; the races are longer and typically faster but not always as hard.

“Junior racing is always just full gas, whereas a lot of races I have done this season have been controlled-‘ish’.

“The off-the-bike side of things have been hard I guess as I have missed my family but due to social media and technology I have kept in contact regularly and have also visited home a few times which has kept both myself and my parents happy!

“I have also learnt to cook a lot this year and feel I’m pretty self-reliant which I guess is rare for a 19 year old nowadays?…”

Was it with AiX you rode Valle d’Aosta – tell us about that experience?

“Yes, I rode Aosta with Aix.

“It was quite frankly awful from my end; the first stage I was taken the wrong way in the select group chasing the break. I felt good and then the peloton decided to protest meaning a lot of guys GC chances had gone I guess.

“But then from there it got a lot worse.

“I was ill on the second day throwing up and unable to eat much meaning the third day was a damage limitation day for me. I got round but once again I was feeling sick.

“I started the fourth stage but I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I struggled to eat and drink in the stage and once again was throwing up on the bike.

“The medics told me to stop and sadly I was a DNF…

“This was really disappointing and made even worse when a week later I was involved in a crash in a race and broke my wrist.

“It was a very tough period for me this and I’m grateful to the support of my family and friends who helped me to stay motivated.”

The Chrono des Nations – how did you get that ride and what was the experience like compared to a UK time test?

“I chose to ride it by myself unsupported by Aix.

“It was basically on the way home from the South so my dad also came to give me a hand, it was a great experience and really well organised. The weather wasn’t great and the course was actually fairly technical so it was about limiting risks on the technical wet corners.

“I felt I rode well and taking ninth whilst being first year u23 was also a nice reward after a long racing season.

“I started in late January so my legs can definitely feel the effect of around 56 race days.

“It was similar to the UK national TT course where I was 10th, those courses suit me more than the typical UK CTT out and back on a flat dual carriageway course.

“The Chrono was also a bit longer being a 43 min effort compared to the UK TT champs at around 30 odd minutes.”

Photo©Freddy Guerin/Direct Velo

Tell us about your other 2019 results.

“I actually started off quite well with two top 20 places in my first two elite nationals on rolling terrain.

“After that I took a stage win in the Multipole Berre race.

“I then began to race bigger races and got second overall in the Volta Castello in Spain whilst taking second on the queen stage (summit finish at 1500m) and third on the first flat stage of that race.

“I took 10th overall in the UK national TT championships which was pleasing.

“I was also was able to take 12th in the Bourg Arbent Elite National, a race where I was battling Frenchman Clement Champoussin and American Matteo Jorgensen on the final climb – both of whom are going World Tour in 2020; AG2R and Movistar respectively.

“I also won a UK road race, the ‘Tom Hawkins’ whilst I was back for a break from continental racing.”

SEG Racing Academy for 2020, a top team, how did you get that ride?

“Yep, it’s simply an incredible opportunity for me to learn and develop in the best environment possible for an under 23 rider.

“I have been in contact with Bart Van Haaren for a while. We had a few calls and I did some performance tests for the team.

“After that, I was offered the opportunity of racing for SEG Racing Academy and obviously I was not going to say ‘no.’

“I feel like it’s a great match; I want to learn and they have a program fully oriented to the rider’s development.

“It takes a special mind set and commitment to go to a foreign team as a young U23, but at the Academy they know that and the environment is really friendly in that sense.”

Will you be living over there?

“I’m lucky enough to be living in Girona and using that as my base for the season, this will be incredible for training.

“I will still come home to the UK from time to time to see family and obviously ride the national championships.”

2020 is about

“Learning, developing, winning as a team! soaking up a lot of different and new experiences.”

Oh to be young! VeloVeritas wishes him well for 2020.

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.

Related Articles

Erick Rowsell – “I do like to race a lot”

It’s been a while since we last spoke to young English rider Erick Rowsell (and yes, that’s his sister) - it was at the time when he was one of eight Endura riders (and just five Britons) to survive the inevitable cull which occurred when the team merged with German Pro Continental squad, Netapp for season 2013.

Douglas Dewey – “Racing in Brittany is an Art Form”

Dewey has hit the ground running in France, with wins in the 138 kilometre/198 starters Etoille De Tressignaux – and you have to check out their website, the accordion music is cool – a stage win plus the GC in the two day Fleche d’Armor and a stage win and spell in yellow in the Tour de Lesneven. We caught up with Douglas on a trip back to Blighty to have a minor injury checked out.

Mike Cuming – a Very Young Pro

We all know everything about Armstrong, Contador and the other top names in Pro cycling, but they all had to start somewhere. A young English rider called Mike Cuming has shot from club cyclist to promising Pro in two seasons so nothing is impossible.

Robert Smail – Winning Belgian Kermises and Top Three in InterClubs

It was last Autumn when we last heard from Robert Smail, one of those ‘forgotten men’ out there jousting with the Eeckhouts, Willems, Smets and Caethovens of this world in the land of the frites, cross winds and kermises. High time we had another word...

Calum Johnston – Locked-down on Etna

It’s a wee while since last we spoke to Scottish ‘Zappi Man’ Calum Johnston who’s out there in Bella Italia, chasing the dream - but when we heard he was stuck on a volcano in Sicily we just had to learn more.

Gabriel Cullaigh – On leaving the GB Academy and joining SEG Racing

It was Mark Stewart suggested we have a word with this young man, Gabriel Cullaigh; he’s been riding strongly for the GB U23 Academy in Italy but recently decided to make his own way in the tough world of continental bike racing, joining strong Dutch Continental outfit, SEG Racing Academy. Here’s what Gabriel had to say to us just the other day...

At Random

Rob Simpson – the Man Behind “Velo Sportive”

Despite my bemusement at the popularity of Sportives - as Vik says; 'you go out on your bike to get away from folk, not ride round with 500 others!' there's no denying their popularity. Rob Simpson is the man behind 'Velo Sportive' who organise participation in Sportives and will be promoting his first sportiv in April - we decided to reach out to him and seek enlightenment.

The Legend that is Danny Clark

With all this Six Day chat we thought it might be nice to re-run this interview we did with Danny Clark some six years ago - jingz! where does time go? We hope you enjoy it...

Rotterdam Six Day 2012 – Day Two

It's not a proper Six Day unless it's a marathon to get there - and really you should arrive in a different country. My journey to the Rotterdam Six Day 2012 meant a super-early start, Transit van to West Craigs, cab to Edinburgh airport, plane to Amsterdam, train to Rotterdam, Metro to the Ahoy Stadium - then walk across the road.

The VV View: An Iberian Update, Alberto Contador and more

It's funny how things work out, Alberto Contador signs a contract with Specialized bikes for 700,000 euros last week. So will he be riding for one of the teams who ride on Specialized bikes; Quick-Step or Saxo Bank? Ah! Then Quick-Step announces that they will no longer be riding on Specialized, but will be on Eddy Merckx bikes.

Reflections on the 2011 Track World Champs – Part II, Shane Archbold

The bad news-there's no individual pursuit, points or Madison at the Olympics. The good news is that the team pursuit stays and we get the omnium-I had my doubts about this event but there's no doubt that it produced some savage racing at Apeldoorn; let's see what silver medallist, Shane Archbold had to say.

Ian Field – Consistency in the World Cup CycloCross

Sometimes you time an interview just right and your subject goes out and does something big right after it. Take British cyclo-cross champion Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles) – or should that be, ‘Field de Brit’ as they say in the Flatlands. We spoke to him on Wednesday and on Friday his coach Dan Fleeman of DigDeep Coaching called us to tell us that he’d pulled off a ‘biggie’ – 13th in the Koppenbergcross after leading for the first two laps and a puncture with two laps to go.