It was a different story on Friday in the Under 23 road race; for the second year running, GB supplied one of the men of the race.
In 2007 Johny Bellis took the bronze in the frantic sprint for glory at Stuttgart; and this year it was Ben Swift just missing a medal in fourth place after a ride which U23 TT medallist Cameron Meyer described as; “awesome!”
Both riders – along with a chap called Cavendish – are products of the British Cycling Academy.
We caught up with GB Worlds U23 TT rider, Russell Hampton, a couple of days after his ride in Varese, to talk about the race, the Academy and Tuscany.
PEZ: What’s your background, Russell?
Russell: I started off riding time trials then competed mainly on the road with some track, but since I’ve been on the Olympic Development Programme, I’ve stopped the track.
PEZ: You’re based in Quaratti with the Academy?
Russell: Yeah, I’ve been there for the last two years, I had some decent top 10’s in 2007, but this year started badly – in my first race of the year I crashed on a cobbled section going through a town and broke my hip. I was out until July, so I’ve only been racing for a couple of months.
Russell training at home in Quaratti.
PEZ: How did you get the TT ride?
Russell: I was in the GB U23 team which won the TTT in the Tour of Alsace, so that ride helped get me selected and I’ve had good form since the start of August; they wanted to give me experience of the U23 Worlds – this was my first time.
I rode the Junior Worlds in 2006 at Gent – the individual pursuit and time trial.
Varese was a great experience though, a whole different level from the Junior Worlds, a much bigger stage, with Pro Tour buses around the circuit and all the big riders out training. I was surprised by the size of the crowd for the U23 TT – there were a lot of people out to watch.
PEZ: How was the course like for the TT?
Russell: It was challenging but not technical, it was ‘full on’ power all the way, especially on those long straights. I caught my minute man at eight kilometres – that was good, but apart from that, I didn’t see anyone.
Hampton nearing the finish of his Worlds TT.
PEZ: What’s Quaratti like?
Russell: The weather is good, the food is good, the locals know us really well now, we have a mechanic and a soigneur – you can concentrate 100% on your cycling.
Having said that, a lot of emphasis is placed on ‘life skills’ – basically looking after ourselves, cooking, cleaning and such like. It’s also good that Max Sciandri lives nearby, he has so much experience of pro racing and gives us good advice.
PEZ: No U23 road race for you?
Russell: Not this year, that’s my season finished, I’m going home to Essex now. Officially, I’ll be back in Tuscany in March, but I’ll make a few trips over during the winter. I’ll be riding the indoor track at Manchester up to Xmas, it gives you a good base and it’s enjoyable.
Hampton is no stranger to the podium on the track.
I’m not really a ‘turbo guy,’ unless it’s really bad weather, most of my work is on the road. I don’t do weights; I prefer to do specific strength work in the bike.
PEZ: Your goal in cycling?
Russell: To be part of the pro scene, that’s the ultimate goal, hopefully at the next of next season.
With ‘Cav’ signed to Columbia until 2011, Bellis now aboard CSC – Saxo Bank and Swift rumoured to be going to new Russian squad, Katyusha – Russell’s goal is no pipe dream.