From Berlin to London

Photos by Kenza Barton Schlee

“I had a great experience racing with the Huub Wattbike team in Berlin. Backing up rides that quickly is always tough, but definitely learned from the guys. Lots of new techniques for riding and recovery, and really looking forward to improving the team into London!” Ashton Lambie 

Berlin was the host to the third World Cup and it was the most loaded competition yet. With all the major players turning up for the team pursuit, including the current world record holders Australia, there was an excitement about who would come out on top. 

With the strange decision by the organisers to have three rides in the day this became a test of recovery as well as execution. Huub Wattbike had the bonus of rotation this week with the addition of IP world record holder Ashton Lambie. Not only is Ashton fast but he has had the open mind set that fits into the team perfectly so it was great to get him in the team for Berlin and London.  

Qualifying has been the most pivotal round so far in this series and unfortunately Huub Wattbike were slightly the pace finishing sixth with a 3:58.086. Just like in Paris the team knew what they needed to do to back up a disappointing qualifying round and jump back into medal contention. Up against Belgium who had qualified with a 4:00.020 the team were confident that they could get a fast start on Belgium and get into their draft. At each kilometre mark Huub Wattbike gained time on the Belgians gaining more time each kilo comfortably qualifying fastest with a 3:54.411. 

This was another huge win for the team as they yet again got into a medal final. This time against the Canadians in the Bronze medal final. Huub Wattbike qualified faster than the Canadian team and after beating them in Milton in their own back yard there was a confidence heading into the final. Everything was going well and it looked like the team had not been effected by the three rides in a day. They were up on the Canadians for the first 3 kilometres but then the last kilo saw the Canadians ride into the lead. Canada finished with a 3:56.339 ahead of Huub Wattbike with a 3:57.094. A devastating result as the team looked for their second medal of the series however whether it was recovery or execution it has already all been analysed and discussed heading into the next round. 

The team travel back to Britain for their home world cup and ready to get onto that top step. Its Gold Medal time for the Peoples republic of Derbados! 

“Berlin might not have been the medal winning performance we were targeting but there were some awesome rides by the squad. A solid 3:54 continues to show we belong at the top, and that when all of the pieces fall in to place we can do something really special in London.” Dan Bigham 

Back in the Medals!

Photos by Kenza Barton Schlee

“Canada further showed our potential on the world stage. Qualifying fastest demonstrated our raw speed, we need to work further on our ability to execute great rides throughout a competition. Exciting times as we head in to a four week training block ahead of Berlin World Cup.” Dan Bigham 

With back to back World Cups the team were able to get straight back out on the track and work on some different strategies for the Milton World Cup. Although  things were clearly not dire, after getting a personal best of 3:53.826 in Paris, the team had targeted a number of things to work on to get back on that podium. 

 
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The team acclimatised to the time zone quickly with help from a copious amount of waffles and a trip to Niagra Falls before getting back out on to the track. It only took a few laps on the Milton Velodrome to realise rhythm would be tough to get this week. Red was certainly the new black. The velodrome in Milton had some warping in the wood on one side so it made it a tricky track to get the hang of. A few training runs in however, the team were quickly into hitting their targets. 

Qualifying is fundamental for all teams but more so for Huub Wattbike. With only a ‘4 man big’ squad they don’t have the luxury to rotate like other nations. This meant going out and qualifying in the top two was even more crucial. In an extremely tight round of qualifying, with the top four teams all posting times of 3:56, Huub Wattbike took the top spot with a 3:56.628. A massive moment in the development of the team and the world cup series. To go out and beat the best nations in the world in a straight shoot out against the clock was exhilarating to say the least. 

Qualifying first meant the team had a first round clash against Canada. After getting a national record the night before ( 3:56.931) Canada were buoyant and clearly in good form. The first round mimicked qualifying however, Huub Wattbike went out ‘slowly’ with Canada getting an early lead but as Harry, John and Dan settled into their rhythm they pulled back the Canadians to win with ease (with a 3:55.022). 

This set up a gold medal final versus the in form Denmark. Huub Wattbike were down on time in the opening few laps but on this occasion Denmark just had more fuel in the tank and Huub Wattbike could not reel in the deficit. The final finished Denmark 3:53.499 v Huub Wattbike 3:56.699. So similar to Paris, another big success for the team, this time qualifying fastest, then picking up a silver medal but the team are ready to grab that gold in Berlin. 

Paris World Cup

 

The first round of the Tissot UCI Track World Cup in Paris marked the start of a new chapter for the Huub Wattbike Test Team. There has been no time spent sitting back on previous successes and achievements. This World Cup was the time to move forward and progress further on the world stage. With the Olympic cycle in full swing the competition is fully loaded with all the best nations coming out all guns blazing.

It wasn’t long after getting on the track in Paris that the team realised it was going to be a fast week. Through the familiarisation sessions, the team progressively found form and speed, settling in well on the quick Saint Quentin en Yvelines track. The swirl of busy training sessions made it unclear on who was favourite, with many nations doing 2-3km efforts on close to world record splits. The turn strategy for qualification was set the evening before, with a slightly more orthodox plan of four long turns with no crazy changes being implemented. However, on the Thursday night the ride did not go entirely to plan. John struggled to find his rhythm in what was his second ever team pursuit, however we still qualified sixth with a time of 3:57.916. This meant the gold medal was off the cards but the fight was definitely on for the bronze. With the pressure on, we knew we had to get one of the fastest two times in the first round. The team altered the strategy to shift the load around between the riders, and agreed to go out at slightly above target race splits. Despite a fan deciding to drop an inflatable banger down the track in front of Jonny, the team executed their plan very well, laying down a massive personal best of 3:53.826 with a 56.2 second final kilo. The fastest of all teams.. Back to what we do best, showing up and turning heads. 

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This meant we were up against the European champions, Italy, in the bronze medal final. Italy had ridden a national record of 3:53.1 in the rounds, so a the team needed to find another seven tenths of a second to match them. Italy went hard out the gate, gaining a 2 second lead after the opening kilometre, we held the gap and began to draw it back in the final kilo but it was too little too late. We still finished with our second fastest ever time of 3:55.464.

This is the amazing thing about where we have come as a team; the fact that we finished fourth at our opening World Cup with two personal best times, yet we are still looking around thinking “We have more to give. We know we can be on that top step” is crazy. To even think disappointment could creep into our thoughts after what we have achieved against the biggest nations in the sport is a testament of where we have come from and the work we have put in. So, now we move onwards, not sitting back on previous times, always analysing and improving. Next it’s off to Canada, where we hunt for more time and more success. 

Huub Wattbike Launch!

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The 2018/19 track season presents a huge change for what was formally known as Team KGF. After a prolific inaugural season, the team have attracted attention worldwide and have strengthened their team in every aspect. Huub and Wattbike have taken title sponsorship of the team, both giving great investment and integral support in all areas.

To make a step change in performance from the 3:56.0 that secured the World Cup Gold at Minsk in January, the team have had to assess and improve upon all aspects of their preparation, equipment, technology and execution. Retaining a core group of British partners along with bringing a range of new innovative brands onboard, there has been significant development throughout the off-season, utilising this broad and experienced knowledge base to great effect. Huub Wattbike are confident of achieving their season goal of winning the Tissot UCI World Cup Series.

Rider Quotes

Dan Bigham – Man 1. 2018 Commonwealth Games 4km Individual Pursuit – 6th place. Record holder for most British titles won in a year (eight, 2018).

“This year has been absolutely full bore in the background to get everything lined up to make a big step up at the 2018/19 World Cups. I’m satisfied that we have improved upon every aspect of our performance. Exciting times lie ahead…”

Jonny Wale – Man 2. 2018 Commonwealth Games 1km TT – 5th place. Scottish kilo TT record holder.

“I can't believe I've been talked into another year of this… At least we've got the better Tanfield from day 1. Being serious, Dan has outdone himself in gathering a fantastic group of sponsors. Holistically we are stronger in every possible way, so I can't wait to get on a start line and show people what we can do!”

John Archibald – Man 3. 2018 Commonwealth Games 4km Individual Pursuit silver medallist (4:13.0). 2018 RTTC National 10 Mile Champion.

“Excited to test myself this season in a team event. The pressure is on, but training is going well, and the new equipment & technology is exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s possible.”

Harry Tanfield – Man 4. 2018 Commonwealth Games Road TT silver medallist. 2018 Tour de Yorkshire stage winner. 2018 HSBC UK National TT Championships silver medallist.

“I’m looking forward to picking up where we left off last year on the top step of the podium. Having managed to get a consistent track block in before being thrown into a World Cup is a big positive, so I’m sure I can make a big impact on track.”

Jacob Tipper – Man 5. 2018 Tour of Qinghai Lake 2HC stage winner. Prolific Darley Moor champion. 

“Excited to be working with some new sponsors, new ideas, and building on last season’s success. We have taken some really positive steps forward, so we are expecting some big things this track season.”

Support Staff Quotes

Steve Faulkner – Head of Sports Engineering at Nottingham Trent University. Team Manager, Data Analyst and all-round person of authority!

“Working with Huub Wattbike Test team has been great. The team has a disruptive way of thinking and embrace new ideas. The team provide a great opportunity to get away from some of the traditional, often dogmatic ways of training in cycling and are open to testing new ideas from my research and elsewhere. Hopefully the season ahead will see the team’s approach reap the rewards and change how others approach their preparation for competition.”

Chloe Maudsley – Head of Derbyshire Institute of Sport.

“We have known the team for about 18 months and have been proudly supporting them with their pursuit to be the fastest team in the World.  It is easy to think of them as obsessed in the way that they plan and prepare every day, but essentially, they are just 100% motivated to achieve success.  As individuals, they are all very grounded and charismatic which makes them an absolute pleasure to work with.  We are excited to watch them take on the world and will be shouting at the TV every time they race!”

Photos by Kenza Barton Schlee