Thursday, August 5, 2021
HomeInterviewsIan Garrison - Deceuninck-Quick-Step's Young American

Ian Garrison – Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s Young American

A young pro gets his big WorldTour break and what happens? COVID-19 comes along and, well, you know the rest. Ian Garrison, US TT champion had big plans for 2020 with Deceuninck – Quick-Step. We spoke to Ian at his home in Atlanta, Georgia.

-

In the overall scheme of things in these Strange Days, bike racing is well down the scale, that’s taken as read. But imagine that you’ve just realised your dream and signed with the world’s number one team, performed well on your debut and are looking forward to the next part of your season once your training camp in sunny Greece ends. Instead you have to get home to the US as quickly as possible to avoid being ‘locked down’ in Europe. That’s the situation Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 2020 signing, US Elite Time Trial Champion, Ian Garrison found himself in just a few days ago.

The 21 year-old from Georgia first came on the radar in 2016 with second spot in the US junior time trial Nationals behind Brandon McNulty, who’s now with UAE. There was also a stage win in Canada’s Tour de l’Abitibi – ‘the junior Tour de France.’ And a bronze medal at the Worlds in the junior TT behind aforementioned McNulty and silver medallist Dane, Mikkel Bjerg who has gone on to win a remarkable three u23 TT Worlds and is also now with UAE.

Season 2017 saw Garrison with Axeon-Hagens Berman for whom he took a stage in Canada’s Tour de Beauce and finish second in the u23 Gent-Wevelgem behind Britain’s Jacob Hennessy. Still with Axel Merckx’s development team for 2018, Hagens Berman-Axeon he produced strong stage placings and fourth on GC in the highly rated Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux u23 stage race in Belgium.

He won the prologue in the Tour Alsace and ‘enjoyed’ a late season burst of northern racing with the Primus Classic, GP Jef Scherens, Tour de l’Eurometropole and GP Isbergues all on the agenda. In his third season with Hagens Berman-Axeon he moved up to second on GC behind Bjerg in the Tryptyque, took his double US TT championships and finished in the silver medal position behind Bjerg in the Worlds u23 TT.

VeloVeritas caught up with him at his home in Atlanta, Georgia; his ‘home’ during the season being Gerona in Catalonia. 

Ian Garrison
Photo©Deceuninck-Quick-Step

How did your ride with Axel Merckx’s Axeon Hagens Berman team come about, Ian?

“After I turned 18 I was looking for a team and Axel’s organization is kinda the dream team if you’re a u23 racer. I’d won a stage in l’Abitibi and there was a rider on the team from Georgia on the team, Phil O’Donnell who put a word in for me so a lot of it was down to contacts.

“I spoke to Axel on the phone in August and he agreed to take me on the team. I haven’t spoken to him for a little while but we text each other and keep in touch.”

That was one wild day you chose to win your Worlds u23 TT silver in Yorkshire.

“Yeah, it was a different day for sure! I was off early so I missed the flooding but there were certainly some big puddles around.”

How did the ride with Deceuninck-Quick-Step come about?

“After I won the National TT, Patrick Lefevere expressed interest and we spoke back and forward throughout the rest of the year; I was ready to move up and had a handful of other good u23 results.

“Movistar also expressed interest, but I chose to go with Deceuninck.”

You got your season off to a great start with third place on Stage Four of la Provence.

“Yes, I was happy with that, it was my first race with the team and I went into it with no expectations.

“I was lucky with my breakaway partners, they were all committed, we all realized we had a good chance of success; it was one of the most cohesive breakaways I’ve ever been in.”

Then you rode the Faun Ardeche Classic and Royal Bernard Drome in France – tough roads and grim weather.

“Hard roads for sure, both are up and down all day – climbers races and the wet weather didn’t help.”

What would you program have been had not Corona come along?

“I was on a training camp in Greece and after that I had two semi-classics in Belgium, Danilith Nokere Koerse and Bredan Koksijde Classic, the Tour of Catalunya, Tour of Turkey, Tour of Romandie, the Dauphine then home to the US for the Nationals.”

Ian Garrison
Ian Garrison (r) with his fellow neo-pro on the team, Andrea Bagioli. Photo©Deceuninck-Quick-Step

How did you get home from the Deceuninck training camp in Greece with the world going mad around you?

“I spoke to team back and forth but the thing was it all escalated do fast; the team got me on a flight from Athens to London then on to Atlanta.

“Whilst I was very disappointed at how things went it was a relief to get home safe to my mother and brother in Atlanta.”

Are you locked down yet or can you still get out on the bike?

“I can still get out, it classes as ‘recreational activity’ – I do drills, tempo riding and chase Strava king of the mountains.

“Atlanta is a bit of a sprawl do it takes a while to get out of town and on to good roads – but they’re quieter than normal so riding is OK.”

How are you keeping your head positive?

“Honestly, I’m just grateful that I’m still able to ride my bike and that I’m healthy and my family is healthy.

“If you were stuck inside it would be very easy to slip into a downward spiral.”

Ian Garrison
Photo©Deceuninck-Quick-Step

We were talking to Wilfried Peeters the other day and he said that the team has set up WhatsApp groups so DS’s can speak to their guys?

“Yes, my DS is Rik Van Slycke, who was pro ‘back in the day,’ winning Nokere Koerse and riding the Tour de France in the Lemond era, I was browsing an old cycling magazine the other day and saw his name.

“But it’s not just Rik who’s in touch, all the DS’s and riders keep in contact.”

Your brother, Michael is pretty handy too – he won Abitibi last year.

“Yes, he’s with Hagens Berman Neon, this year. It’s tough for him, he’s super-motivated after putting a lot of work through the winter; but we’re staying positive and we have each other to train with.”

What are you looking forward to most when things get back to some semblance of normality?

“Just racing and learning; I learned so much in those first few races and I look forward to a full race program.” 

We’ll second that last statement, with thanks to Ian and Phil Lowe at Deceuninck Quickstep for organizing the interview.

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

Tim Mountford, Part One – Tandem Sprinting at the ’64 Olympics

Tim Mountford was one of the pioneers of US professional cycling in the 60’s and 70’s; he recently gave freely of his time to tell VeloVeritas about his adventures in what was a golden age for European cycling.

Daniel Holloway – Going back to his roots

“Goin’ back to my roots,” says the Odyssey song – and so it is with Mr. Daniel Holloway, former ‘Crit King’ of the USA. But he’s now back on the boards in a big way with a World Cup omnium win in Chile and a memorable win in the 300 lap, 75 kilometre handicap Madison in the Copenhagen Six Day. It was 15 years ago, in 2003 when the man originally from Morgan Hill, California won the novices 500 metres at the US track national championships.

Chloé Dygert Owen – Winning Rainbow Jerseys for Five Years

How long a career do you need to have to win 10 [yes ten] World titles? US ‘chrono girl,’ Chloé Dygert Owen has won that many and she’s still only 23 years-old; and there are two Pan Am golds and an Olympic silver in the dresser drawer too. High times we ‘had a word’ with the young lady out of Indiana.

Shelley Verses – Pro Cycling’s First Female Soigneuse

Soigneurs; they shouldn’t be too young – they have to have lived a bit; they should be mysterious; surrounded by an aura of camphor and early season changing rooms; of few, gruff words; have hands like shovels... but blonde, cute, smiling, chatty, cheerful, Californian – and a woman? That was – and is – Ms. Shelley Verses, the first female to break into the closed world of pro cycling as a soigneur with Motorola, La Vie Claire, Toshiba and TVM.

Tim Mountford, Part Two – Finally, the First Professional Contract

In Part One of the Tim Mountford story we heard how the eighteen year-old Tim was living on his own, sharing a flat with another rider, working at a local bike shop and training for the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, as well as being creating and being the chief editor of a cycling magazine titled the "Southern California Cycling Journal". Tim went on to race in two Olympic Games and competed at world level in the tandem sprint before turning to the Professional Six Day scene and working his way up through various sponsors and contracts to land the biggie; a place on the famous TI Raleigh team managed by the legendary Peter Post.

Tim Mountford, Part Three – Stayer Racing in the ’70s

In Part Two of the Tim Mountford story we heard how he received his first professional contract on the famous Kuipke boards in Gent, to landing a contract with Peter Post and his TI Raleigh squad, eventually retiring and setting up a bike shop business. Here we roll back a couple of years to find out more about his experiences behind the 'big motors'...

At Random

Il Giro d’Italia 2014 – Stage 3; Armagh – Dublin, 187 km. Marcel Kittel’s Second.

Today’s stage Stage Three was a re-run of Saturday’s with Marcel Kittel proving again that he’s not just quick but very, very strong. Again he was out of position but with the strength of a bull he came over everyone from well back to win. The press always want to attach labels; ‘fastest man in the world’ to sprinters – and whilst it’s never as simple as that, the big German is certainly impressive. His manner is good too with a smile never far away.

Le Tour de France 2010, Stage 10: Chambery – Gap; Lance Don’t Employ No Cissies

It couldn't go on like that. Men can only 'death race' for so long and then they need a 'blaw.' Today, on the stage out of Chambery, they took the chance to lean on their shovels and left the minnows to grab the glory. I really didn't expect to see the finalé but when the box kindled up, there it was - with 12 K to go and a race average of 34 kph.

Le Tour de France 2010, Stage 13: Rodez-Revel; Vino’s Day

Bonjour from Le Tour de France in Rodez-Revel! Vino - he's a boy. Born 16-09-1973 in Petropavlosk, he was a stagiere with Casino in 1997; he won the Dunkirk Four Day in his first full season and finished that year with six wins - an impressive debut.

Rik Evans – Part Two; “It was a win that lost me my job”

Rik Evans continues telling his story, from giving away a Worlds title to Commonwealth Gold medal, top club 34 Nomads and his slide out of cycling but into depression. Evans has now settled in Australia and cycling has come back into his life.

Ride London 2016 Goes to Tom Boonen

The worst thing about going to the Tour? Coming back. ‘Cold turkey’ is tough – Dave and I used to go to a kermis on the Monday after the Tour finished to ease our ‘crash.’ And last year Callum and I went to the post Tour crit in Aalst. Not this year however because we flew home from Geneva. But our man Callum found another solution; he got himself down to the ‘Ride London’ race; whilst we had to watch it on TV – with no coverage of the crucial last few K. But Callum let us have some pictures - we hope you like them.

Russell Downing – a Legend in his own Lifetime

Russell Downing rode his first race when he was seven years-old; he’s now 33 and the British pro racing just wouldn’t be the same without him. Some times when you interview a rider you have to work hard to find decent palmarés for the introduction – but not with Downing. The problem is deciding what to leave out; pages could be dedicated to his wins and placings.