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Junior Roubaix 2013
photo: Rhys Howells
Last week we featured Tao Geoghegan Hart's piece on crashing out of contention at Junior Roubaix 2012 and his ambitions for this year's edition. On Sunday he made it to the velodrome on time and finished on the 3rd step of the podium. We caught a few minutes with him in between sessions at Newport Velodrome with the GB team.
You must be tired, riding Roubaix on Sunday and then straight to a training camp?
It's good to come off the back of a long race like Roubaix and do some high intensity drills – although everyone is pretty knackered – and just work on your speed. It takes a while to make your legs warm up but it's easier than being out on the road. I feel better than this time last year when I was really on my knees.
But you must be feeling good after that result?
I was pleased yeah, obviously you always want to win but the Dane [Mads Pedersen] is a strong lad. With 10km to go I was trying to get away from him but he was always there.
If you look at the three of you on the podium, the other two look more like rouleurs, typical Roubaix riders.
The Dane's a goat though like me. I know both of them quite well. The Belgian, Nathan Van Hooydonck [nephew of Edwig, two-time Tour of Flanders winner] gave me a drink over the last 10-15 km.
But you couldn't shake Pedersen?
I kept trying to hit them but the Dane was always in my wheel. I tried and tried but it didn't work.
How did the action unfold?
Well we did the two opening circuits before the first sector, and with about 5km before that there is a bunch sprint for position. Everyone was nervous. The first section is number 16 of the elite race, once we were on there we [GB team] got flicked a bit with people riding in the gutter and on the grass at the side of the road. It was pretty chaotic with a Dutchman and Frenchman throwing punches at each other.
photo: Sophie Darlington
How were you feeling over the first few sectors?
I didn't feel particularly good or bad. The further into each sector the quicker it got. In between sectors it slowed down as people jostled for position. I actually crashed on sector 10 or maybe 11 after a Swiss rider stacked it. I rode into him and went straight over the bars. That was my only panic really, I lost about 30 seconds but I had bodies with me so I picked my way back up and actually felt better after that. I think a little bit of effort to get back on plus the adrenaline gave me a boost.
Did anyone else crash out this year?
Matt Gibson, who's a 1st year junior, crashed after about 40km and broke his hand, but he carried on for another 30km before getting into the broom wagon. Hard lad. He said there were a few of the Czech team on the bus drinking cans of Stella [Artois]…
Did you find yourself going well on the cobbles?
It's strange riding on cobbles, on the flat, it's not like a climb where you're looking around. You just concentrate on holding a wheel and don't think about what's behind. So when the Dane attacked on Carrefour [notorious sector], me and the Belgian went across and all of a sudden it was the three of us 20 seconds up the road. We caught the Slovakian rider who was out alone and then he punctured and it was just us three.
That image of you is on the Carrefour de l'Arbre?
Yeah, I've had a bit of stick for that as it looks like my saddle is about a metre too high for me, but it's because all my weight is on the inside to push me around the corner.
You had a few supporters right there?
Yeah Rhys Howells, who took the photo, and his team were out in Belgium that week racing and they came over to support me. The crowds are brilliant at Roubaix as you're racing the same day as the pros so everyone is already on the roadside cheering, clapping (and drinking).
Apart from the saddle height issue, I also notice you are riding without gloves.
Yeah, I had long fingered gloves at the start but after that I got too warm. We were using proper 27mm FMB tubulars, which I think are ex-Team Sky ones, and they made a massive difference. I also double wrapped the bars, I don't like wearing mitts.
And did you wear that base layer?
Yeah I wore the holey Merci Roubaix base layer from last year. Tom Southam said you only wear things that bring you good luck, so I put it on, underneath a merino base layer. I also wore my lucky Rapha oversocks…
photo: Sophie Darlington
It was a beautiful day in the end weather-wise too.
Yeah it was freezing in the morning but it became really sunny and we even ended up with tan lines. It was a special day all round, remembering the last two or three sectors from last year and what hell that was – I saw the exact spot where I crashed last year and got goosebumps. But what I learnt from last year was not to panic, stay relaxed and of course be there at the crunch moment, which I was.
And did it feel good riding into the velodrome?
I led it in, gave it 100% but it was weird… Of course I'm ridiculously competitive but I was just really happy to be there. My family was there cheering me. It's the only race apart from Worlds where you have that outside interest at this level. Other races we do in Europe absolutely no one is spectating, not even a dog watching. So it was really the first time I've experienced that kind of thing with everyone congratulating me. Getting a taste of that just makes me even more determined to keep pushing forward and improving. I think quite a few people were surprised by my result so yeah, to turn it on its head from last year was great.
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- 2014 will be the last year that Rapha will be part of @raphacondor JLT, concluding 9 fantastic years as co-owners. → http://t.co/TfWWoTG1ge
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