Andy Tennant writes… Tour of Britain and returning to the track

I came off the Tour of Britain about a week and a half ago and now the track season has really kicked off for myself.

We’re looking at the European Championships in Apeldoorn in a couple of weeks and then we’ve got the Manchester World Cup at the beginning of November, with the Revolution Series starting somewhere in the middle.

Andy Tennant, pictured here at the fourth round of the 2013 Tour Series in Aberystwyth, is now swapping the road for the track Pic: ©Sweetspot

So that’s the next phase for myself – getting the track legs back. I’ve done a couple of days on the track so now it’s time to step it up.

Returning to track cycling

The first couple of days back on the track, having been on the road, are always a bit difficult – getting used to the leg speed again is one of the most difficult parts I find.

You’ve come off riding up Haytor, flat out, at 20 revs a minute to suddenly having to produce pretty much the same power at 130 revs a minute, so it’s a bit like ‘woah, that’s a bit different!’

Just getting into it is a little bit difficult. Ed, Burkey and Sam [Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Sam Harrison] have done two or three weeks on the track. They were at the track nationals last weekend with their track legs pinging from that.

I went into training and I was strong but I didn’t quite have the pace in my legs and it showed today when we did some low-geared motor-paced stuff – I was alright in the wheels but when I tried to come round in the sprints I was a bit leggy with those gears.

But then we did other efforts on the pursuit bikes and I was fine when it was bigger gears and the revs were 130 – I was OK. When it reached 140 though there wasn’t much for me to go on that. It was a case of ‘OK, that’s all I’ve got!’

I was hoping to do a full schedule at the track nationals but I had a bit of a cold after the Tour of Britain, which I caught off Dean Downing, so I was only able to compete in the scratch race.

I think quite a few people, due to the rain and all the bad conditions, came out of the Tour of Britain a little under the weather as such.

Dean Downing was among those to have suffered with the inclement weather at the Tour of Britain pic: ©Roz Jones

It meant I was forced to miss the individual pursuit and points race. I did the scratch race more for a hit out than looking for a result. I hadn’t actually ridden my bike much that week. I’d rested up so I felt a bit bad in that one!

Tour of Britain

Talking of the Tour of Britain,I said in my previous blog the route looked difficult and it was tough riding it.

I was always going into it expecting it to be tough, especially as I was ill around three weeks previous to it, but I got through it pretty well to be honest.

The team competed in Belgium for a few weeks but I was forced to withdraw from that through illness so that took me out of what was the big preparation phase.

I was really just training at home, doing some long rides. You’ve really got to put the effort in, reach your threshold and then do flat out efforts of between two and five minutes. In those couple of weeks I didn’t do anything amazingly exciting. I didn’t do anything special in training. It was unfortunately just hard work and time spent bike training!

The people that really targeted it were Liam Holohan and Ian Bibby. They trained specifically from pretty much the end of the nationals whereas I always had the track in my mind.

The Tour of Britain, to me, was a big hit but also to be used as an endurance block for the track as well, which it gave you naturally by just being fit and being able to race it. At the actual Tour I was right up there until the Haytor day when I started feeling rough.

Andy Tennant admits jostling for position in the sprints against the likes of Mark Cavendish and his Omega Pharma-QuickStep leadout train was tough going Pic: ©Paul Hayes-Watkins

I was up there in a couple of stages but it was difficult in the sprints because I was looking after myself which made it quite difficult, whereas obviously you’ve got the Grand Tour teams having a number of riders leading one man out.

I was on my own scuttling around and you don’t get any respect – which is fine but it makes it that little bit more difficult. Getting yourself to that position is fine, but you need people to help you maintain it and keep you out of the wind and such.

When you’re doing all that on your own and then trying to sprint it makes it a difficult job.

Bibby had to pull out with a knee injury which was devastating for the team so I was then next in line and I was just looking after myself. Liam was our big aim for the hillier stages and he did that great ride on the Haytor day.

We were all trying to get into breaks but there wasn’t much movement from me that day – the only groups I was getting in were going out the back! I was struggling a bit, I’ll be the first one to admit that. I can’t complain overall though. It was a good Tour of Britain for myself and the team.

Looking ahead to the winter

You get used to having to move between the road and the track – your fitness will come across from the road but with the final bit it takes you a few days to get into it.

Switching from the road to the track can be tough Pic: ©Madison Genesis

Usually, the first couple of days you do struggle a bit because we’re going back into it at a high pace straight away. We’re not bowling round at 4’05” or 4’10” pace in the team pursuit, where it’s not too difficult – you’re looking at sub-four minutes.

Team pursuit has moved on a lot and people don’t realise the amount of time you have to dedicate to it – I wish you could just pop in and for it be that simple but unfortunately it’s not! I’m happy with where I’m at though. It was a good first few days on the track and it’s good for the confidence as well.

I would say I’m definitely in a good position to start with and obviously the team’s strong – I think we’ve got a good chance at the next two competitions.

Andy Tennant is a member of Great Britain’s world champion men’s team pursuit squad, and a pro cyclist on the road with the Madison-Genesis UCI Continental team. Follow Andy on Twitter – @tennanto

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