PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling : PEZ Talks With English Cyclocrosser Ian Field

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PEZ Talks With English Cyclocrosser Ian Field
The clue is in his name, Ian ‘Field’ – smooth tarmac or even smoother hardwood boards are not for Mr. Field; he’s opted for the mud, sand, ice, adverse cambers, roots, yes, and fields of cyclo-cross. But not in the quiet of the green English countryside; rather in the madness that is a Flanders cyclo-cross – sand, cabbage patches, frites, hamburgers, beer, crazed fans who are insanely loyal to ‘their’ man and growl at the sight of the opposition’s ‘supporter’ coats; not to mention speeds that are positively frightening.


This year the 24 year-old from Kent, England has moved to the Flatlands to see how far he can go in a sport where it now takes (at least) half-a-million Euros to sign the world champion.

PEZ: Why cyclo-cross, Ian?
Ian Field: I first got into cycling when I was 12/13 and ‘cross was the first form of racing that I did – I’ve always enjoyed it and when my time at the UK Cycling Academy was over I decided to focus on ‘cross with the backing of Hargroves Cycles.





PEZ: Do you get much support from British Cycling?
IF: Not really, we get taken to the Worlds but have to get to the World Cups and Superprestige races under our own steam.


PEZ: How do you pay the bills?
IF: I couldn’t do it without the support of Hargrove Cycles, my sponsor.


PEZ: Have you had any interest from Belgian teams?
IF: A bit, but when push comes to shove it’s a lot cheaper and easier for them to sign a Belgian guy.





PEZ: Tell us about the hardware.
IF: Shoes, helmet and gloves are all by Specialized. The frame is a Scott with a Dura Ace groupset – 39/46 rings with a 12 to 25 cassette, 27 if it’s muddy.

Shimano don’t do cantilevers so I’m on Frogs Legs brakes with Koolstop blocks. Pedals are Shimano XTR, I’ve found them to be best.

Wheels and tyres – I have a selection to suit the conditions; Mavic and FFWD, carbon/alloy/deep/shallow with Dugast or Challenge tubulars.

Challenge tyres are like Dugast – but cheaper!

The UCI rule now is that the tyre width can’t exceed 33mm – but you only run them on ice or in sand.

Disc brakes are legal for ‘cross this season, but until now no one has come up with a commercially available lever that can work with indexed shifting and hydraulic braking – you wouldn’t want to use cable operated discs.





PEZ: I heard that former world ‘cross champion Mario De Clercq was been helping you with training?
IF: He’s been helping me a little, yes. I’ve done a few sessions with his Sunweb team and I’ve had a few one on one meets with him.


PEZ: He’s not ‘Mr. Happy’ is he?
IF: He’s a bit of a closed book but once you get to know him he opens up a bit, his English is perfect but we only ever talk about cyclo-cross!





PEZ: Those ‘cross starts are like a track handicap – how do you train for them?
IF: You can’t train for the starts; but you can train for everything else.

There’s so much technique to practice, particularly cornering and getting on and off the bike – the Belgians have all been doing it since they were nine or ten years-old.

Mario has been helping me with technique; that is a weakness.

There are the physical demands too, of course – the running and cycling.

The Belgians break the whole course down and look at every corner – they’ll figure out how to take every one flat out and do that for the whole course.


PEZ: What’s your favourite type of course?
IF: I like a decent hill, I like it muddy and quick, not too muddy; but I don’t like when it’s very fast – like a road race.

If it’s really muddy then it’s down to straight power and that’s not best for me.





PEZ: You’re not riding a strong road programme like Nys, Albert and the rest – isn’t that a big disadvantage?
IF: I’m desperately trying to get on a Belgian road team for next season – it is a disadvantage.

It’s riding a solid road programme that gives you that deep down strength.

Next year I won’t be riding mountain bike in the summer, I want to be riding Belgian ‘Top Competition’ road races and stage races.

Its good stage races that are the key to building strength; the UK road scene is on the up but there are no stage races and so much travelling – the Belgians moan if they have to drive more than an hour to a race.


PEZ: What’s your best ride, this year?
IF: I was 13th at in the GVA (Gazette van Antwerpen, newspaper which sponsors the series) I beat Vanthourenhout and I was sprinting for a top 10 place.





PEZ: Are you assimilating that Flemish culture?
IF: I’m trying to – it’s a lot quieter in Flanders than in England; that’s good if you’re a cyclist because it’s easier to concentrate on your training and racing.

Everybody knows about cycling which is good – but it can be bad because they’re not slow to tell you if they think you’ve not done a good ride; they understand the sport.


PEZ: How about supporters?
IF: I have quite a few, I had good support at Koksijde, not just from the British folks that were over but from Belgians, too.

I think folks respect what I’m trying to do – I got a little interview on TV a month or so ago and since then the commentator picks me out and gives me a mention, that’s helped.


PEZ: And can Sven win the Worlds?
IF: If it’s icy I think he stands a good chance – he’s one of the very best in those conditions.

He normally doesn’t get his timing right for the Worlds but this year it looks to me like he’s holding back a little – he’s won at Saint Wendel (Germany) before and stands a good chance.





PEZ: Your goals?
IF: Short term – to win at Bradford (England) that’s a UCI race and carries points; UCI points are crucial because they decide your position on the grid.

I won at Southampton (England) and if I can win at Bradford too (which he did) it could move me up from the fifth or sixth row to the third row of the start grid.

Then I want to be consistent over the Xmas races to set me up for the British Championships in January

I really want to win that – people ask me why I’m not wearing the British champion’s jersey.

And I want a top 25 finish at the Worlds – that would be good progression.


***
We wish Ian well and will be keeping an eye on his performances between now and the Worlds.

To keep up with Ian, check out his website: IanField.co.uk.

Don’t forget Twitter!




 

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