Sunday, November 28, 2021
HomeInterviewsLewis Askey - Signed with Groupama-FDJ then Locked Down

Lewis Askey – Signed with Groupama-FDJ then Locked Down


We’ve been big on the ‘retro’ lately – for obvious reasons – but with the season starting to come back to life we’ve been speaking to one of the ‘men of the future’, Lewis Askey.

Lewis Askey
Lewis Askey has signed for Équipe Continentale Groupama-FDJ for 2020. Photo©supplied

Askey is just 19 years-old and probably best known for winning the 2018 edition of the junior Paris-Roubaix; for season 2020 he’s with Équipe Continentale Groupama-FDJ, based in Besancon.

When we spoke to him he’d just returned from a six-and-a-half hour 205 kilometre training jag out towards the Swiss border with the full équipe.

Lewis Askey
Lewis Askey and his new team mates enjoy the view of Besancon during a training ride. Photo©supplied

We kicked off with that ‘old faithful’ question; 

How did you first get into cycling?’

“I’ve been cycling since before I can remember, apparently I had my stabilisers off before I was two years-old.

“We live near Cannock Chase and there was always cycling – my dad was into it and my mum did triathlons so I had ‘sporty’ parents.”

Lewis Askey
Lewis Askey calls this a ‘tragic celebration’ – but a win’s a win! Photo©supplied

You’ve ridden the track and ‘cross as well as the road.

“I was on the British Cycling Junior Academy and track was a large part of that, good training but it’s not my absolute favourite, I prefer the road. 

“As for ‘cross, I just enjoy competition; not racing in the winter would be tough – I like beating people and it’s good for homing your bike handling skills. 

“If I’m honest, my favourite discipline is MTB, I’d love to compete at World Cup level, I think it suits me better than ‘cross?”

Lewis Askey
Lewis Askey with that most famous cobblestone. Photo©Christophe Dague/DirectVelo

That junior Paris-Roubaix win in 2018, tell us about it.

“That’s something that will stay with me for the rest of my life, no matter what happens I can always say; ‘I was once pretty good.

“I used to watch Tom Boonen on TV in the race and imagine what it must be like to ride it.

“It was a crazy day, I had good legs and was in the right places when it mattered.

“The adrenalin was pumping when I took that double right hander into the velodrome, there was a big crowd and I knew I could win.

“When I think back it still motivates me.”

Lewis Askey
Lewis Askey won the junior British Madison Championships with VeloVeritas pal Alfie George. Photo©supplied

Season 2019 also started well for you; sixth in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, fourth in the Guido Reybrouck Classic and second in Gent-Wevelgem.

“It was a nice start, yes, I was happy with my consistency but there were races I could have won but didn’t – however, the rides I did are what got me here.

“In the Reybrouck Classic I should have been top two whilst in Kuurne I snapped a bike, I wasn’t riding for the Academy in that race but they gave me a bike, then I crashed and couldn’t sprint on the dodgy rear wheel I had, so a lot of ‘buts.’”

Lewis Askey
As well as being a national champion on the boards Lewis Askey also excels in the mud – here in great company with a 3rd place at Loenhout in the DVV Trofee. Photo©supplied

‘Only’ eighth in the 2019 Paris-Roubaix, disappointing?

“Disappointed, yes. 

“I believe I could have won again but the race just didn’t go our way with punctures and crashes – we missed the break and I tried to bring it back for Alfie George, I lead him out and he was just shy of catching the podium places at the line; he took fifth and I was eighth.”

How about that horrible day in Harrogate for the Worlds and 22nd spot?

“It was an awesome day, I like conditions like that.

“It was a great experience, a home Worlds with all the lads from the Academy there too but I just couldn’t do anymore; I was popped off Quinn Simmons wheel and he went on to win.” 

Lewis Askey is a skillful bike rider. Photo©supplied

Two 2020 races before ‘lock down,’ Ster Van Zwolle – UCI 1.2, 34th place and Le Samyn – UCI 1.1, 54th spot – tell us about them.

“I’ve not been on my best form but had been really looking forward to the Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux in early April, that’s a u23 three day with a time trial included – we did a TT effort in training recently and I was fastest.

“In Zwolle I got my head kicked in, the Dutch guys all know where to be in the right place, I had decent legs but was nervous, scared to miss out and I was going with everything.

“That’s OK with the juniors but over 180 kilometres there’s a bit of a difference.

“I was in the second echelon and gave everything to get across to the first one after 90 minutes of racing; I should have been patient, stayed in the second echelon – but I’m learning.

“The Samyn was only a few days later so I was still a bit battered from Zwolle but was starting to feel better.

“I was in a break of 20 with five Deceuninck riders on the first cobbled sector but some of the big teams missed it and pulled it back.

“It was pretty manic, you have to be at the front on wet, cobbled corners – on the last lap I was pretty tired after 200 K but it was a good week of racing.”

Lewis Askey
Lewis Askey is loving the life that riding for Groupama-FDJ enables. Photo©supplied

How did the Groupama-FDJ ride come about?

As a junior I was looking at my progression, I could have gone to the u23 Academy but I was fortunate that I wasn’t short of options and I decided that this was my best choice.

“The fact that Jake Stewart was already here and I could pick his brains was a big influence upon my decision.

“Last year I flew out to Besancon to see what was what and when I weighed everything up it was the best option, I didn’t want to focus on the track with the Academy.

“I have my own apartment in the city and a lot of flexibility on what I can do – I can ride MTB here and do ‘cross in the winter.

“The team’s facilities are world class; the service course is here, the gym, coaches – it’s a real hub.

“The coaches live here in Besancon and each one has his own handful of riders to look after.”

Lewis Askey
Lewis’ pain cave saw plenty of sweat during the last few months. Photo©supplied

How was ‘lockdown’ for you? 

“The team was very good, allowing us to go home to our families for the lockdown, not be stuck in France.

“I spent a lot of time at my girlfriend’s house in Wales, there’s a lot of space there and even though there were no races I don’t think I was affected too much.

“It was an opportunity to step back and do different stuff; running, BMX, stuff I would normally do in the winter – I even managed to play some tennis.

“There were a lot of people in worse situations than me and I think I’ve come out of it no worse for the wear.”

How did team communication go during lock down?

“Really good, we had an overview plan for a 15 to 20 week period to get back into action – management were ringing everyone in the team regularly to keep in touch and keep them involved.” 

How’s the lingo coming along?

“I perhaps didn’t do as much as I should during lockdown but I do see a tutor once each week.

“My grasp is OK, not atrocious, my reading’s not bad and by the end of the year I hope to be able to understand most of what’s going on.”  

Lewis Askey
Lewis Askey and team mates enjoy a stop during a recent training ride. Photo©supplied

Now that the season is about to kick off again, do you know the shape of your programme?

“It’s manic!

“Our first race is on August 6th and we race every weekend from there until the end of the season.

“I won’t be doing l’Avenir, GB will be Tom Pidcock and the Academy lads but when I came here I knew I might not get opportunities with the GB team.

“I may get a ride in the ‘Baby’ Giro but we have 10 riders chasing six places so I’ll have to justify selection.

“But I have a fair chance of riding Paris-Tours and Piccolo  Lombardia so it’s going to quite a spell of racing…” 

Lewis Askey
Lewis Askey hopes for a spot in the Groupama-FDJ team for some major races in this shortened season. Photo©supplied

A young man ‘living the dream’. With thanks to Lewis, we’ll be keeping an eye out for him on those results pages.

Have a look at Lewis’ website – Askey’s Antics
and if you’re feeling strong try his 10 minutes Abs workout

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

Joshua Cunningham – “I just need to get my arms in the air”

With our Flatlands boys Douglas Dewey and Llewellyn Kinch heading south to race in France for 2013 we decided we’d best have a word with Rayner Fund rider Joshua Cunningham to see what’s happening in Belgium?

Stuart Balfour – Young Scot Victorious in the GP Plouay

Up there on the list of ‘cult’ races is the GP Plouay, now known as the Bretagne Classic Ouest France; not a race that’s high in the cycling public’s consciousness outside of Brittany but always hard fought on a tough parcours by a quality field since 1931. This year the winner was Belgian hard man Oliver Naesen (AG2R) who shrugged off the rain and took the laurels.

Dan Patten Blog: Raring to Go!

The season is here and so I thought it was about time that I posted my first Dan Patten Blog entry of 2012, to fill you in on whats been happening over the winter months and what I am up to in this coming season.

Jack Cousins – Planning to ‘come back stronger and come first’!

It was Vik (for those who don't know, our pal pedalled the hard roads of Belgium in his day, still trains hard and is our outspoken elder statesman, observer and 'critic in chief') who was first to spot the Kiwi’s potential as his name edged up the results in the heartland's kermises. So the call came; ‘you should be talking to that Manchester laddie, Jack Cousins, he’s doing well!’

Dylan Westley – Developing as a Rider and a Person with Equipo Lizarte

Stepping up from the Junior ranks to compete in the u23 category is a big deal for any young rider, but to combine it with moving to a new team as well as living away from home in a different country takes courage and a rock-solid belief in your ability - qualities talented 18-year-old Yorkshireman Dylan Westley has in spades.

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.

At Random

Track World Championships 2010 – or Training Session?

The women's 500 metre time trial was the first race I caught sight of on the TV - it's hard to get excited about it. But the Ballerup track was looking great, freshly sanded and with new advertising - what you don't realise until you look at the down tube of a bike that has just finished in a Derny race is the amount of soot and oil that the little motorbikes pump out - the joiners have buffed all that off, though.

Le Tour de France 2017 – Stage 21: Montgeron – Paris Champs-Élysées, 103km. Dylan Groenewegen strikes early

Former Dutch Champion, Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL) struck out early on Stage 21 and held on for his seventh win of the season after stage wins in Dubai, Yorkshire, two in Norway and two in the Ster ZLM Tour. He’s had two sixth places, a fifth, a third and a second in this Tour but with that big hurdle called Kittel out of the way, this one belonged to him.

Michael Mørkøv – “My goal is to be a strong helper for Kristoff”

The unluckiest man in Paris-Roubaix? Trek's Suisse legend Fabian Cancellara with that nasty crash? But how about Katusha’s former Danish Elite Road Champion Michael Mørkøv, puncturing out of the break from which Matt Hayman went on to win the race...

Grand Tour Time Trial Bikes 2007

Grand Tour Time Trial Bikes 2007... With the prologue of the Tour taking London by storm, we thought it would be good to take a look at some of the hardware used. These shots came from the Giro.

Double Challenge: TdF 2010 Stage 8 (mountaintop)

Double Challenge. Mountain stages in bike races are inevitably decisive in sorting where riders finish in the race overall. They pose a number of challenges to a team atop the obvious physical barrier of the terrain itself.

Le Tour de France, Stage 7: Tournus – Station des Rousses; Bravo Chavanel!

Chavanel! A great day for him and QuickStep - their second stage, the maillot jaune regained and the polka dot jersey retained in gallant fashion.