As the OVO Energy Tour Series reached its thrilling climax in the heart of Salisbury two weeks ago, it was Canyon Eisberg that stormed home to victory – crowning themselves Series champions a mere month after besting the WorldTour teams on the opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire. After a stellar month for the British Continental team, what does the rest of the 2018 season hold? We had a chat with Harry Tanfield and Max Stedman to find out…
The 2018 season so far
The year’s first major achievements came from Harry and Charlie Tanfield, who made headlines on the world stage at both the Track World Championships and Commonwealth Games, events that saw the brothers from North Yorkshire take home a haul of medals – two golds, two silvers and a bronze. Harry detailed his silver medal in the time trial event in an exclusive interview with Yellow Jersey.
“I just didn’t know what to expect, I’d come straight from the track having only done a 1.1 race that I’d got spat out the back of within the first three hours. In the end I rode it quite conservatively and I think I had a little more to give in the end – obviously not a whole 30 seconds to catch Cameron [Meyer] though.”
It was then Harry, along with a strong Canyon Eisberg team that headed to the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire – a race that team director, Tim Elverson, describes as, “the race which underlined us as having arrived, we are delighted to be invited back. Morale was very high, everyone started well, and we delivered.”
Success came as early as the first stage in fact, Harry Tanfield and his breakaway compatriots outfoxing the sprinters’ teams to pull off one of the season’s best cycling coups. Tanfield blitzed the sprint and pulled on the first leader’s jersey of the race – setting the ball rolling for another successful Tour de Yorkshire from Canyon Eisberg. The youngster described the agonising final 500m.
“The sprint actually kicked off well before the final corner, I’d already got out of the saddle and sprinted flat out before the TV cameras had panned out. Everyone else just stayed standing, literally parking the bus into the headwind – if you’re out of the chair doing 500-600 watts then you’re not going to go very quick, that’s why I sat down, more fool them really.”
The team’s young GC talent, Max Stedman, then struggled to move up on stage 2’s summit finish.
“It was a massive battle for position – I actually don’t think anyone managed to move up on that climb, everyone just kind of stayed where they were. It was a grim climb but the crowds at the top more than made up for it, they were insane.”
By stage 4 the youngster from Berkshire was flying the Canyon Eisberg flag in a tenacious breakaway, alongside eventual stage winner – Stephane Rossetto.
Max detailed his impressive fourth day ride for us.
“The mechanical on stage 3 was gutting but it did give me massive freedom and a lot of anger for stage 4. Being the first one to ride through the giant crowds was just unbelievable. The day was all going to plan for the first two hours but then my legs just fell to bits on Park Rash – in the end I just lost to a better man. If I’d have known he was going all the way to the finish I think I’d have given him fewer turns – but yeah, the legs were gone. It was great to do something I don’t do that often, getting in the breakaway.”
Building on their success in Yorkshire, Canyon Eisberg went into the OVO Energy Tour Series with morale at an all-time high, Elverson declaring, “I’ve never had so much ammunition.”
Crushing the Durham and Aberystwyth rounds, before going onto pull on the leader’s jerseys with a dominant display in Stevenage, the squad animated the Tour Series from start to finish – the Tanfield brothers, as well as Jack Pullar and Andy Tennant all taking memorable victories on their way to Tour Series domination. Harry describes the win in Stevenage glowingly.
“I just pissed on it and won by half a lap – we’d already won the TTT and by then it was just literally going through the motions.”
The final round in Salisbury then went on to etch a few more, unforgettable memories into the team’s short history – a maiden Tour Series victory, as well as a retirement announcement from their beloved sprinter, Chris Opie.
As the criterium and TT specialists fought it out at the Tour Series, Canyon Eisberg sent a typically young squad to the legendary Rás Tailteann – a race that soon saw the youngsters awarded the prestigious title, ‘men of the Rás’, simply for completing the gruelling, eight-day stage race.
Max Stedman mounted an early GC challenge but describes how the team fell a little short in the end.
“We came away from it empty handed-ish, I mean we got five top-10s which was great, but we just didn’t quite get the results we wanted. We were trying to set it up for Rory but he ended up riding a little too high a pressure in his tyres, by the end he was skidding all over the road so when the move went he was quite far back – it was then just a case of trying to wing something in the sprint from me. A top 10 was great, it’s nice to know that at the end of a long day, I can still get up there.”
We asked Max to sum up the Rás in three words, “chaotic, hard, grading – actually swap that last one for fun, it was definitely fun!”
A 2018 season so far marked by gold medals, Tour Series wins and leader’s jerseys-a-plenty, Canyon Eisberg now look ahead to what the rest of the 2018 season has to offer – eager to maintain their momentum and snatch a spot in the upcoming Tour of Britain, the pinnacle of the domestic race calendar.
A top result in the Tour of the Reservoir, the Bristol GP (8th July) or the Stockton GP (15th July) would be enough to nudge them into a guaranteed spot.
Looking at a table from @MikeyMottram and the article from @MadisonGenesis (https://t.co/hzmm8zcs4N) – qualification for the Tour of Britain is bloody tight! Just three events left! #thefightforToB pic.twitter.com/OcesxjbwQN
— British Cycle Sport (@VeloUK) 9 June 2018
With Tim Elverson experiencing his first major victory as a sports director at the Tour of the Reservoir back in 2016 with Pedal Heaven, Canyon Eisberg remain confident that their director can orchestrate yet another tactical masterpiece – a result that may see them usurp the lead of JLT at the top of the qualification rankings.
The team’s new signing of New Zealand under-23 talent, Ryan Christensen, has brought some extra, punchy firepower to the British outfit – Elverson eager to sign the youngster after his 10th in the Kiwi national championships and a 21st overall in the early season Herald Sun Tour – a race won by the likes of Esteban Chaves, Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins in the past ten years.
Elverson is confident that his new signing can add to Canyon Eisberg’s run of success, “we have the Tour of the Reservoir coming up, the Ryedale Grand Prix and an extensive European calendar. I’m confident Ryan can take his chance in those races and help us in our fight for Tour of Britain qualification. He has fitted in immediately. Now I’m excited to see what he can do.”
Many of the Canyon Eisberg team will have to spin a few plates going into the packed racing months of June and July – balancing team ambitions with the Tour of Britain qualification, and personal glory at the upcoming national championships.
The Tanfield brothers, renowned TT specialists and hot favourites for the event, look towards the national time-trial title – the powerhouse course in Northumberland on the 28th June suiting them both to a tee.
After the team’s Tour Series win in Stevenage, Harry was already laying down plans for the national event.
“It was good TT training, I felt comfortable, I wasn’t dying and I was riding within myself – still putting time into them. I’ve got to keep the load on for the national time-trial championship.”
With a silver medal in the Commonwealth games equivalent, Tanfield is among the favourites going into the national champs – but with elite competition such as defending champion, Steve Cummings, and five-time national champion, Alex Dowsett, also eager for national glory the Canyon Eisberg rider won’t be able to simply cruise home in Northumberland.
The youngster isn’t fazed by the WT opposition however, getting in his TT miles sooner rather than later.
“I’ve got a little club TT on Wednesday night, then a real fast 10-mile TT on Saturday, a 25-mile TT on Sunday and then ANOTHER 25-mile TT the weekend after and then I’m off – no more racing now, it’s all about the TTs.”
In the road race, Max Stedman is also poised for a strong ride
“Hopefully I’ll be able to do something in the U23s, there’s a good chance I could grab a top three – but it is nationals, no matter the course there’s only ever about 20-30 people that actually finish – it’s a tough old race.
“I’ve been part of this team for a while, it’s amazing to see where it has come from – it’s always on the up and it’s an amazing thing to be part of.”
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